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AFC Playoff Picture Week 15: Margin for Error Decreasing

Who do Chargers fans need to root for to help get the Bolts back to the playoffs?

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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

In the AFC, you are either 2-11 or have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs. 12 teams have a record of 7-6 or better. The Chargers 8-5 record gives them the slightest bit of wiggle room going in to a very tough game, but it is likely that the team will have to win at least 2 out of their final 3 games to be playing football in January.

Current Playoff Picture:

Division Leaders:

(1) Patriots (10-3)

(2) Broncos (10-3)

(3) Colts (9-4)

(4) Bengals (8-4-1)

Wild Card Leaders:

(5) Steelers (8-5)

(6) Chargers (8-5)

Contenders

(9) Ravens (8-5)

(11) Texans (7-6)

(7) Dolphins (7-6)

(8) Chiefs (7-6)

(10) Browns (7-6)

(11) Bills (7-6)

(12) Browns (7-6)

Chargers Week 12 Opponent: Denver Broncos

Not exactly the team you'd like to play with a struggling offense and your playoff hopes on the line, but the Chargers will look quite a bit different in their second matchup against the Broncos. Brandon Flowers, Melvin Ingram, Manti Te'o, and Jerry Attaochu make up a list of defenders who did not play in Denver earlier in the year, and will look to follow up on a strong performance last Sunday night in the team's loss to New England. A win would put the Chargers at 9-5, going a long way in making the last two weeks of the season less stressful.

Other Important Match-ups:

Bengals at the Browns

Quite possibly the most likely scenario for the Bolts reaching the postseason involves the Bengals not making it. With a tough remaining schedule (at Cleveland, Denver, at Pittsburgh), the Bengals could easily drop 2 of 3 and finish at 9-6-1. This would allow either the Ravens or Steelers to take the division, freeing up a wild card spot. A win by the Browns here would be a good start.

Steelers at the Falcons

The Steelers are the league's most inconsistent teams (besides the Chargers?), so losing on the road against the Falcons is certainly possible.

Jaguars at the Ravens

A Jaguars upset would really... oh never mind. The Ravens aren't losing to Jacksonville at home. Fans of the rest of the AFC would sure appreciate a miracle though.

Packers at the Bills

There is a pretty good chance that the Packers end the Bills' season on Sunday.

Raiders at the Chiefs

Is another upset possible? Probably not at Arrowhead stadium. The Raiders have already helped the Chargers enough in 2014 with two defeats and a victory over the Chiefs a few weeks back. We can't really ask for more.

Texans at the Colts

A Colts' victory would be a huge blow to the Texans, who are fighting for their playoff lives.

Dolphins at the Patriots

Same situation as the game above, but a Dophins' loss would help put the mind of Charger fans at ease.

Editor's Note: FanDuel is hosting a $500,000 one-week fantasy football league this weekend. It's $10 to join and first place wins $40,000. League starts Sunday 1 PM ET and ends on Monday night. Here's the link.