San Diego Chargers: Playoff outlook update

With one week left in the regular season, the San Diego Chargers still have a shot at making the playoffs.  As of last week, the team needed six games to happen exactly as planned to reach the postseason.  In week 16, the first three games went according to plan.  This Sunday, the Chargers’ fate will be decided.

San Diego Chargers

Keenan Allen & Eddie Royal

As a quick recap, the Chargers will make the playoffs if they beat the Kansas City Chiefs, the Cincinnati Bengals beat the Baltimore Ravens, and the New York Jets defeat the Miami Dolphins.  These results would give the Bolts the sixth best record in the AFC and the second wild card spot.  The Chargers need to finish with a better record then both the Ravens and the Dolphins because they would lose the tiebreaker (conference record) to either team.

Now that week 16 has passed, it is time to look at how likely this playoff scenario is to happen.

The first game to look at is the Ravens-Bengals game.  Fortunately for the Chargers, Cincinnati has a very good football team.  The Bengals are at home, and recently have looked very good on both sides of the football.  As the Ravens showed some major problems last week against the New England Patriots, the team should be no match for the Bengals.

The next game is less likely to go the Chargers’ way: the Dolphins are the favorites to beat the Jets on Sunday.  Miami has a better record on the season and they are at home.  However, in terms of rankings, the Jets and Dolphins average the same yards per game on offense and the Jets actually allow fewer yards per game defensively than Miami.

Another factor to consider is the mentalities of both teams for this game.  The Dolphins need to win to make the playoffs, so they should come ready to play Sunday.  On the other hand, the Jets’ season is over, but that doesn’t mean the team won’t be fired up.  Cornerback Antonio Cromartie recently said about upcoming matchup, “This is our last game of the year. We want to make sure it’s their last game, too.”  All things considered, the Jets might sneak away with the win in a close one.

San Diego Chargers

Eric Weddle (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

Finally we have the Chargers-Chiefs game.  If this game were to take place earlier in the season, the Chargers would have a chance to win, but it would be slim.  Now, with the team’s current momentum and home field advantage, the Bolts are a clear favorite.  Add to that that the Chiefs will likely rest their starters for a majority of the game (a win or loss won’t affect the team in the playoffs) and San Diego should come away with a win easily.

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The Chargers still have a pretty good chance to make the playoffs despite the fact that they are currently eighth in the AFC.  The biggest question will be whether the Jets can upset the Dolphins in Miami.  It is tough for the team’s playoffs dreams to not be in their own control, but all hope is not lost.

So on behalf of all Chargers fans; good luck Geno Smith.

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