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AFC Playoff Picture: How did Thanksgiving Change Things for the Chargers?

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Buffalo Bills v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Chargers (5-6) started Thanksgiving morning with a 4-6 record good for the 12th seed in the AFC. The problem with the 12th seed is that only six teams make the playoffs in each conference and that leaves you looking up at least six teams that you need to pass to get into the tournament. Well, Thursday’s dominant win against the Dallas Cowboys did a good amount of the heavy lifting necessary to position the Chargers for a playoff run.

As the only AFC team to play yet this week, the Chargers find themselves in possession of the 8th seed and only half a game behind the Baltimore Ravens (5-5) and the Buffalo Bills (5-5). The Chargers hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Bills but have a worse conference record in the event of a three-or-more-way tie. Luckily for the Chargers, the Bills travel to Kansas City this weekend and also have to face the Patriots twice.

The Ravens are a little trickier. They, to have a better conference record than the Chargers and their remaining schedule is not very strong. They host the Texans this week and the Lions next before they travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers and Cleveland to take on the Browns. They then finish the season with home games against the Colts and Bengals. Try to find more than two potential losses on that schedule and you’ll probably be disappointed.

The Chargers are only half a game ahead of the Dolphins, Jets, Bengals, Texans, and Raiders. Granted, those teams are mostly bad but the Chargers did manage to lose to the Dolphins and frankly three weeks ago most people thought the Chargers were pretty bad, too.

Overall, in the Wild Card race, the Chargers cannot afford to slip up. There are too many teams there to take advantage even if most of them are not very good. Someone has to get in after all.

While the Chargers are closer to 6th seed than they are to the AFC West lead, they are also still alive in the latter. The Chiefs are 1.5 games ahead of the Chargers, but they have been playing rather poorly of late and the Chargers still get to play them head-to-head. The rest of their schedule includes the Bills, Jets, Raiders, Dolphins, and Broncos. Only one of those teams is truly dead in the water and unfortunately, that will be the Chiefs’ last game of the season where only they have anything left to play for. However, as bad as they have looked the last few weeks, the Chiefs could realistically lose to any of the teams they have left to face.

After opening the season by losing four straight, the Chargers are in remarkably good shape as we head into December.

Poll

Will the Chargers make the playoffs?

This poll is closed

  • 47%
    Yes, they’ll win the AFC West
    (461 votes)
  • 36%
    Yes, they’ll get in as a Wild Card
    (353 votes)
  • 16%
    No
    (158 votes)
972 votes total Vote Now