With two weeks remaining in the regular season, there’s only so much that can happen to change playoff seeding, so let’s go ahead and take a look at some of the most likely outcomes in regards to who the Chargers are bound to face in the wild card round.
Cincinnati Bengals (11-4 entering week 17)
The Bengals have games against the Bills and Ravens to finish the regular season and as long as they beat the Ravens, they’re likely headed for the No. 3 seed. If the Chargers win any of their remaining games, they’ll be no lower than the No. 6 seed.
This matchup would definitely be the most polarizing. It’d be Justin Herbert vs. Joe Burrow, two quarterbacks who — along with Tua Tagovailoa — will forever be linked by their shared draft class.
Baltimore Ravens (10-5)
In this scenario, the Bengals likely lose to the Bills on Monday night and the Ravens would just have to beat the Bengals in week 18. At that point, both teams are 11-6 and the Ravens get the tie-breaker over the Bengals. If the Chargers then win at least one of two, they’re still in the No. 6 seed and will travel to Baltimore for a rematch of the 2018 wild card round.
In this scenario, the Chargers would have to win out while the Ravens have to at least lose one of their next two. The Bolts at 11-6 would overtake the Ravens for the No. 5 seed with identical overall records due to their better record within the conference. Chargers would be 8-4 (with win over Broncos) while the Ravens would be 8-5 or 7-6 with one or two losses (Steelers and Bengals), respectively. Since there’s no way the AFC South winner would be any higher than No. 4, they’d get paired with the Chargers.
As for the game that specifically decides whether the Chargers face the Jags or the Titans, it will come down to which of the latter two come out on top against the other in week 18. As far this week’s game, it means nothing for either Jacksonville or Tennessee.