LOS ANGELES — The Kansas City Chiefs lost their much-hyped battle against the Los Angeles Rams on Monday, but even in their disappointment in the moments afterward, they felt they really lost nothing at all.
“It’s like the college football thing when a No. 1 plays a No. 3 and loses, do you really bump them down?” tackle Mitchell Schwartz said. “They’re still two of the best three teams.”
Despite their 54-51 loss to the Rams, the Chiefs still feel they belong in the conversation with regard to legitimate Super Bowl contenders. They’re 9-2 with both losses — the other coming in Week 6 at the New England Patriots — on the road by a field goal against one of the NFL’s better teams.
More importantly, the Chiefs are still in control of the race for the AFC’s No. 1 seed and home-field advantage in the playoffs. All of the conference’s other teams except the Pittsburgh Steelers have at least three losses. The Steelers have two plus a tie, and one of those losses was to the Chiefs in Week 2.
The Chiefs have a couple of clear goals in mind when they return from this weekend’s bye to prepare for their Week 13 game against the Raiders in Oakland: Clinch their third straight AFC West championship and then secure the home-field advantage.
The Chiefs are 1½ games ahead of the 7-3 Los Angeles Chargers in the division race. The Chiefs beat the Chargers in L.A. to open the season and the rematch at Arrowhead Stadium is Week 15 on a Thursday night.
The Patriots, Texans and Chargers are the AFC teams with three losses, making them, as well as the Steelers, the competition for home-field advantage.
“The goal is to be playing either them or someone else in a couple of months,” Schwartz said of a Super Bowl involving the Chiefs and the Rams or another NFC team. “Getting the first seed in our conference is very helpful for that. … We understand how precious every single game is and making sure we keep winning games to maintain that No. 1 seed.”
The toughest of the Chiefs’ five remaining games may be their Week 16 Sunday night meeting at the Seattle Seahawks. They could be in the race for an NFC wild-card spot.
A reasonable expectation for their final record would seem to range from 14-2 to 12-4. A 14-2 record would give the Chiefs the AFC West title and home-field advantage. A 12-4 record would get them into the playoffs at least as a wild-card entrant.
At this point, the Chiefs like their chances in the postseason given either scenario. They were disappointed by the Rams loss but heartened by the details just the same.
The 2018 Chiefs and 1966 Giants are the only teams to lose multiple games in a season when scoring more than 40 points.
The Chiefs committed five turnovers and were penalized 13 times for 135 yards against the Rams but still came close to victory.
“We still have the whole season and what we want in front of us,” wide receiver