By Dave Thomas
There’s nothing like waiting until the final day of the regular season to find out your fate. For the Los Angeles Chargers, the chances of making the playoffs are far from set in stone.
First, the Bolts need some help along the way, notably Tennessee losing their home game earlier in the day this Sunday against AFC South leader Jacksonville.
Should that happen, all the Chargers need for their first playoff visit since 2013 is a win later in the afternoon at home against the hated Oakland Raiders.
Top Seeds Taking Shape
With the top four seeds in the AFC playoffs set (numbers one and two could flip-flop depending on Sunday’s action), there are only a pair of Wild Card spots left.
Heading into this Sunday, Baltimore, Buffalo, Tennessee and Los Angeles are fighting for the last two spots. Meanwhile, New England, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville and Kansas City are assured of post-season action.
One of the Chargers’ main rivals, the Chiefs, are locked into the fourth seed and will host a first-round playoff game the weekend of Jan. 6-7. The same is true of the Jaguars, who are entering the post-season as the AFC’s No. 3 team.
As the scenarios stand, the 9-6 Ravens will secure a playoff spot with a home win Sunday afternoon versus Cincinnati. With Tennessee securing a spot if they beat Jacksonville at home, both the Bills and the Chargers would be left on the outside looking in.
Win Or Lose, Season Was Rescued
Although Los Angeles would like nothing more than to capture their first playoff trip in four years, win or lose, the Bolts have certainly turned what seemed like a disaster of a season after one month of play into a quite competitive one.
Having dropped the first four games of the season, the Chargers appeared destined to be going after one of the top draft picks in the 2018 NFL Draft. Sitting at 0-4, the Bolts got things regrouped with a 27-22 road win versus the New York Giants. From there, Los Angeles would top the Raiders and Broncos, respectively before falling in a tough loss at New England. Following the loss to the Patriots, Los Angeles lost a heart-breaker in Jacksonville in overtime.
With the season potentially headed for disaster once again, Los Angeles would then run-off four consecutive wins before a tough 30-13 loss in Kansas City to the rival Chiefs. That defeat was tough in that the Bolts were playing for the AFC West lead that Saturday evening. Making matters harder to swallow, Kansas City was ripe for the picking at the time, having lost four of their previous five contests.
In beating the New York Jets 14-7 last weekend in the Meadowlands, Los Angeles kept their slim playoff hopes alive.
Even if the post-season is not going to come calling this year, Los Angeles can look back on the season as one where they righted the ship. With new head coach Anthony Lynn at the controls, what could have been a disaster of a season has been turned around. Now, the Chargers will be the biggest Jacksonville fans come this Sunday. With several playoff spots and seeds on the line in both divisions, buckle up your seats.