It was certainly entertaining watching the Los Angeles Chargers bounce back from an 0-4 start to get into playoff contention.
We heard analysts on sports talk shows all over proclaiming the Chargers as the favorites to win the AFC West and some even going as far as to say they were the biggest threat to the New England Patriots in the AFC.
It sure seemed plausible with the way the Chargers were playing. After a tough road loss against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the team went on an impressive run by getting wins over the Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins. Believe it or not, the closest game during that four-game winning streak came against the Browns (9 points).
But everything came to a screeching halt this past Saturday night as the Chargers went into Arrowhead Stadium and came out flat, playing one of their worst games of the season in a 30-13 defeat.
Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen couldn’t connect at anywhere near the rate they had been going into the game. The defense looked soft as it gave up 155 yards rushing to Kareem Hunt. Those were the things the Chargers were hanging their collective hat on during their winning streak.
But they didn’t just lose the game to the Chargers, but the team was hit with several tough injuries.
Austin Ekeler will miss the rest of the season with a broken hand. Hunter Henry has been placed on season-ending injured reserve following a lacerated kidney. Joe Barksdale was banged up and Denzel Perryman left the game.
If was a rough night for the Chargers, one that is going to force fans of the team to be honest with themselves. So let’s be honest about a couple of things as it relates to the 2017 NFL playoffs.
The Chargers aren’t winning the AFC West. That honor will go to the Chiefs. The New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers and Jaguars will all be in the playoffs. That leaves the two Wild Card spots.
The Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans all sit at 8-6, one game better than the Chargers. The Ravens face the Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals in the final two weeks. They’re not likely to lose either of those games, so they’re in at 10-6.
In order for the Chargers to get in, they will have to first take care of business by beating the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders. Then, they’ll need to hope that the Bills and Titans each lose at least one of their final two games. Honestly, that’s possible.
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The Bills’ final two games are both on the road against the Patriots and Miami Dolphins. The Chargers also hold the head-to-head tiebreaker with them by virtue of their 30-point win over the Bills earlier this season. So there’s one team down, what about the Titans.
Honestly, the Chargers should be sending thank you cards to the San Francisco 49ers and their kicker Robbie Gould who kicked a last-second field goal to beat the Titans on Sunday. If not for that, the Chargers’ playoff hopes would be extremely thin.
However, the Titans close the season with back-to-back home games, but those will both be against teams that have already clinched playoff spots—the Los Angeles Rams and Jaguars. The one thing Chargers fans will have to stress about if they’re hoping for that help against the Titans is that season finale against Jacksonville. If the Jags can’t move up in the playoff order, it’s likely they could play a bunch of reserves in order to prevent injuries to starters.
This is what would need to take place for the Chargers to sneak into the playoffs. A possibility? Sure. But it’s going to take a lot of things that are out of the Chargers’ hands, something that could have been prevented with a better performance against the Chiefs.