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Chiefs vs. Raiders: Who should Chargers fans be rooting for?

An early “playoff elimination game” between the Chiefs and the Raiders this Sunday raises the question: Which team’s loss would be more beneficial for the Los Angeles Chargers?

Kansas City Chiefs v Oakland Raiders Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The 6-6 Los Angeles Chargers are essentially in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC West at the moment, and winning the division is their easiest and clearest path to making it into the 2017 NFL Playoffs.

With games against the Kansas City Chiefs (next week) and the Oakland Raiders (Week 17), it’s obvious that the Chargers’ destiny is in their own hands. Win out and they’re in. However, the same is also true for the Chiefs and for the Raiders. That’s kinda what happens when the three teams are tied and each play each other in the final three games.

So, what happens if none of the three teams win out? Nobody finishes 10-6. What then? Well, obviously, we get into the realm of tie-breakers and playoff odds become a big deal.

I help produce a podcast for NFL Network that uses predictive analytics to try and predict winners of each week’s NFL games, and we’ve started using our mathematic formulas to try and predict which teams will make the NFL Playoffs.

As of right now, the Chargers have the best odds to win the AFC West. That’s factoring in things like Joey Bosa being an absolute monster, and not just current winning percentages.

Anyway, check out the podcast!

So, back to my original question. When the Chiefs and Raiders play this weekend, assuming the Chargers fans have to root for a particular outcome that is maybe slightly more advantageous than the other outcome, which team should Chargers fans be rooting for?

The answer is the Chiefs, but there’s not a ton of math to support it. The rationale is that the Chiefs winning this game all but kills the Raiders’ playoff hopes, and the Chargers can finish off the job next week in Arrowhead (assuming they come in 7-6 after a victory against the Washington Redskins). Then they don’t really have to worry about that Week 17 matchup against the Raiders in Los Angeles.

If the Raiders win this week, that Week 17 game, which will likely be attended by a crowd that is mostly rooting for the visiting team, becomes very important and very dangerous for the Chargers’ playoff hopes.

Also, always root against the Ravens. Them falling out of the Wild Card race could end up opening up a second playoff spot for whoever the AFC West runner-up is.