The San Diego Chargers' updated path to the 2013 NFL Playoffs

Justin Edmonds

Who needs to win, and who needs to lose, in the NFL's final three weeks to get the San Diego Chargers to the 2013 NFL Playoffs?

With their upset win over the Denver Broncos last night, the San Diego Chargers significantly upped their playoff chances and sent a message to the rest of the league that they are to be feared. Now, the only issue is actually getting into the playoffs.

According to PlayoffRace.com, the Chargers can take a few giant leaps towards the postseason with wins by the Lions over the Ravens and the Patriots over the Dolphins this week. I wanted to take it a step further.

Using ESPN's Playoff Machine, I wanted to see how I could get the Chargers to the 2013 Playoffs with the least amount of absurdity. Here's how I got there:

  • I started by choosing the winners of previous games based on their ESPN Power Ranking. Not foolproof, but about as good of a starting point as you could hope.
  • Before touching anything, the Dolphins have the 6th seed in the AFC. They finished 9-7, the Chargers finished 8-8 and the Ravens finished 7-9. We can leave Baltimore right there at 7-9.
  • I changed the Week 17 Chargers-Chiefs matchup into a Chargers win, bringing them to 9-7 and changing....absolutely nothing. Damn that loss to the Dolphins!
  • Okay, time to knock Miami off of its high horse. They're already losing this week to the Patriots. I guess the Chargers need Miami to lose twice. Their final two games are against the Bills....ugh....and the Jets. Considering the Bills won their first game against the Dolphins and the Jets lost to Miami by 20 points, let's mark that Bills game down as a loss.
  • Don't worry about the Jets, because apparently the Chargers hold some weird tie-breaker over them, and they can't finish any better than 9-7.

There we are! The San Diego Chargers are the 6th seed in the 2013 NFL Playoffs, going for payback against the Cincinnati Bengals in their first postseason game.

To recap, things have gotten pretty easy to figure.

  1. The Chargers need to win out and finish 9-7.
  2. The Ravens need to do the opposite of that, meaning not going 3-0 against the Lions, Patriots and Bengals.
  3. The Dolphins need to go 1-2 or 0-3 against the Patriots, Bills and Jets.

That's not exactly an easy path, but we knew it wouldn't be after the Chargers dropped games they should've won to the Redskins and Titans. Welcome to the learning curve of a first-year head coach.

(Programming Note: Since I was only able to watch about a quarter and a half of last night's game, I'm pushing back Bolts & Dolts a day or two.)

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