The Los Angeles Chargers could finish the 2018 season 12-4 and still will likely be the No. 5 seed in the AFC playoffs.
They could still win the AFC West division and the No. 1 overall seed, but for that to happen, they must go on the road and beat the Denver Broncos while also hoping the Kansas City Chiefs lose to the Oakland Raiders .
Sure, it could happen in what has been an entirely unpredictable NFL season, but would it be the worst thing if it didn’t? In fact, an argument can be made that the team might be better off having to go on the road.
The Chargers are the one team in the league that doesn’t really have a home-field advantage. It would be strange to see the road to the playoffs have to come through Carson.
Football will never be fully embraced at StubHub Center. On Saturday night against the Baltimore Ravens, there were plenty of purple jerseys and empty seats in the house.
Some fans will try to downplay this, but while other teams, like the Chiefs, enjoy upwards of 75,000 fans screaming, yelling and cheering on their team, the Chargers don’t have anything like that.
Perhaps that’s why they are just 5-3 at home this season?
But going on the road has been a different story. The Bolts are 6-1 on the road and the only road loss they have was against the Los Angeles Rams, which technically isn’t really a road loss since it happened in L.A.
In games not played in Los Angeles, the Chargers are 7-0, including a win in London. That is a truly remarkable statistic.
So with that in mind, maybe having to go on the road for likely every playoff game may not be a doomsday scenario. If the season were to end today, the Chargers would face the same Ravens team that beat them on Saturday night. Is it inconceivable to think that they would have a better chance to win at M&T Bank Stadium than they would at StubHub?
According to their record, the answer to that question would be no.
In the history of the league, six teams have won the Super Bowl as a Wild Card, most recently in 2010.
- Oakland Raiders, 1980: 5-3 road record
- Denver Broncos, 1997: 4-4 road record
- Baltimore Ravens, 2000: 6-2 road record
- Pittsburgh Steelers, 2005: 6-2 road record
- New York Giants, 2007: 7-1 road record
- Green Bay Packers, 2010: 3-5 road record
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Aside from the Giants in 2007, none of those teams have done as well as the Chargers this year, and that team had to beat an undefeated team to win the Super Bowl. While that may not mean much in the grand scheme of things, it does show that historically, the Chargers still very much have a chance.
In the playoffs, particularly if you have to go on the road to a place like Baltimore, New England or Kansas City, you are going to have to pack a stout rushing attack and a solid defense. The Chargers have those things, even if the run defense is still lacking some punch.
So if the Chargers do finish as the No. 5 seed, they should be seen as one of the most dangerous teams in the playoffs. They have gone on the road this season and won in some of the toughest environments including Seattle, Pittsburgh and Kansas City.
This team is better on the road than they are at “home” and that’s all but proven at this point.