By Dave Thomas
Through nine games of the season, the Los Angeles Chargers sport a 3-6 record. It does not take a mathematician to tell you that being three games below .500 is not going to get you an AFC playoff berth.
That said, the Chargers push forward this Sunday when they host the Buffalo Bills (5-4).
The meeting with another old AFL foe is the first of two games the Chargers will play in the span of five days. After hosting Buffalo, the Chargers must turn their attention to a Thanksgiving Day game in Dallas against the Cowboys. From there, the Bolts will be off until Dec. 3.
Will Playoffs Come Calling For First Time Since 2013?
With that being the case, the time is now to look at whether or not this team can make the playoffs.
Having missed the postseason dance since 2013, the Chargers still have room to maneuver around the AFC West. As of this week’s standings, only Kansas City at 6-3 has a winning divisional record. Oakland (4-5) sits a game ahead of both Los Angeles and Denver.
In looking at the remaining schedule, the Bolts have a road date at Kansas City in mid-December, followed by a New Year’s Eve home tussle with Oakland. The season series with Denver ended tied 1-1.
If the Chargers are going to make it back to the postseason, they will not only have to win the two remaining games against division rivals, but also not slip up against teams that are below or hovering around .500.
As the remaining schedule sets up, Los Angeles will play teams (other than Buffalo, Dallas and Kansas City) that are below .500.
So, win the games you are supposed to, steal a couple of wins against teams you might not be favored over, and the scenario of making the playoffs could come true.
On the other hand, do you remember how bad the 1-15 Cleveland Browns were a season ago? If so, do you also remember the one team they beat during the season? Yes, it was the then San Diego Chargers.
The Browns and Chargers will renew acquaintances on Dec. 3 in Los Angeles.
Are Fans Going To Pack Hub?
With four remaining home games this regular season, the Chargers could of course use a home field advantage.
Much has been made about the team’s temporary home in Carson, California. With the StubHub Center seating less than 30,000, it isn’t exactly a thunderous packed house like Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City or Lambeau Field in Green Bay.
In looking at the remaining opponents coming to StubHub Center, you can expect both the Redskins (Dec. 10) and Raiders (Dec. 31) to draw a sizable amount of fans for the opposing teams. As such, the Chargers will not have much in the way of that home crowd advantage. Both the Bills and Browns are games where the Chargers could have the edge both on and off the field.
No matter what happens with these remaining seven games of the regular season, expect there to be some critics of the Bolts.
On paper, this looks like a pretty good team. Unfortunately, games are not played on paper.
If the Chargers miss the playoffs for yet another season, there will plenty of blame to go around. Most notable will be losing to Denver (one time), Miami and Jacksonville, certainly all winnable games. You might even throw the loss at New England right before the bye week in there.
So, buckle up your seat belt and get ready for what should be a wild ride these last seven games.
And if you’re a Chargers fan, just hope that Cleveland doesn’t get its first win of the season come Dec. 3.