AFC West Playoff Odds Report: Chargers Back in the Hunt

There appears to be light at the end of this tunnel ...

My, how winning a game changes things, especially when that game is against the team leading your division.  After last week’s loss to the Raiders saw the Chargers take a significant tumble in the Football Outsiders playoff odds report, the Chargers bounced back and are again in the hunt for a playoff spot.

As a refresher, here’s how Football Outsiders comes up with their probability reports:

The playoff odds report plays out the season 10,000 times. A random draw assigns each team a win or loss for each game. The probability that a team will be given a win is based on an equation which considers the current Weighted DVOA ratings of the two teams as well as home-field advantage. (DVOA ratings are explained here.) Mean Wins is the average number of wins for this team over the 10,000 simulations. Odds are given for winning each playoff seed, as well as for winning the division (DIV), earning a bye week (BYE), or winning a wild card (WC). TOT represents odds of making the playoffs in any fashion.

Are the Chargers the new favorite to win the division? Well, make the jump and you’ll find out.

Team Rec WEI DVOA Mean Wins #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 DIV BYE WC TOT CHANGE
KC 8-5 -0.4% 9.7 0.0% 0.0% 38.8% 13.0% 0.2% 1.8% 51.7% 0.0% 2.0% 53.7% -16.7%
SD 7-6 25.2% 9.1 0.0% 0.0% 30.3% 9.1% 0.3% 5.3% 39.4% 0.0% 5.6% 45.0% 19.6%
OAK 6-7 -1.3% 7.7 0.0% 0.0% 2.7% 6.1% 0.0% 0.1% 8.9% 0.0% 0.1% 9.0% -4.5%
DEN 3-10 -19.6% 4.1 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%

Well, well, well ... it would appear the Chargers have made significant strides in their odds of making the playoffs.  While not the favorite to win the division, they are back to having a respectable chance of overtaking the Chiefs to win the division.  Last week, we saw the Chiefs with a 50% lead over the Chargers in probability of winning the division.  This week, that lead drops to just 12%.

The best-case-scenario happened for the Chargers this week: they beat the Chiefs, and the Raiders lost to the Jaguars.  Thanks to that loss, the Raiders saw their playoff odds take a hit as well, and they’re now in a very-distant third-place position to make the playoffs.  With only a 0.1% chance of making it in as the wild card, the Raiders’ best chances to make the playoffs is for a complete collapse from the Chargers and the Chiefs.

The Broncos? Well, better luck next year.

At this point, the Chargers just need to worry about themselves and continue to win. If they lose any of their remaining three games, well, barring a Denver-sized epic collapse to end the season, the Chiefs will win the division.

Assuming the Chargers win out, the Chiefs still need to lose one more game for the Chargers to win the division.  With a 2-5 road record, and a 6-0 home record, it looks like the best chance for the Chiefs to lose another game would be this Sunday when the team visits St. Louis.

But then again, the Raiders are a solid 4-0 in the division, so it’s entirely possible they go into Arrowhead and take care of business for us.

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