How the Chargers can clinch a playoff spot in Week 16

Jason Reed
Tennessee Titans v Los Angeles Chargers
Tennessee Titans v Los Angeles Chargers / Kevork Djansezian/GettyImages
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Two weeks ago it seemed like the season was slipping away from the LA Chargers. The team lost an ugly game to the Las Vegas Raiders and with two playoff opponents due next in the Miami Dolphins and Tennessee Titans, a 6-8 record for LA was certainly possible.

Instead, the Bolts flipped the script to come away with its two biggest wins of the season over both Miami and Tennessee. The team also got a lot of help when it comes to the playoff picture, as every preferred outcome that helped the Chargers happened in Week 14.

Now the Chargers are sitting with an 8-6 record as the sixth seed in the AFC. Los Angeles also has the easiest remaining schedule in the league as they take on the Indianapolis Colts, LA Rams and Denver Broncos. Brandon Staley and co. control their own destiny and they have a doable path ahead.

It might not even take that entire path for the Chargers to secure a spot in the playoffs, though. After all of Week 14's outcomes, the Bolts can actually clinch a playoff spot as early at Week 15 against the Indianapolis Colts. Wouldn't that be a great Christmas present?

Can the Chargers clinch a playoff spot in Week 16?

Technically, as noted above, yes, the Chargers can clinch a playoff spot in Week 16. However, as you can see above, there is a lot that needs to happen for the Bolts to be locked into the playoffs. Los Angeles would have to beat the Colts (something made easier with Jonathan Taylor's injury) while also having three favorable outcomes.

The most likely situation is the first one listed in which the Las Vegas Raiders, New England Patriots and New York Jets all lose. However, based on their opponents, Chargers fans probably should not expect that trio of teams to all lose their games in Week 16.

The Raiders are on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Patriots host the Cincinnati Bengals and the Jets host the Jacksonville Jaguars. New England will almost certainly lose, the Jets are a 50/50 and the Raiders should win.

FiveThirtyEight gives the Patriots a 37% chance of winning, the Raiders a 47% chance and the Jets a 50% chance. However, they also give the Chargers a 49% chance, so take that as you may.

While the Chargers may not get all of the outcomes they need to clinch this week, they can still put themselves in a very good situation with a win. With each of the other playoff contenders having tough games the last two weeks, beating the Colts and moving to nine wins in Week 16 would monumentally skew the odds in the Chargers' favor.

In fact, according to The New York Times NFL Playoff Simulator, the Chargers would have a 97% chance of making the playoffs, regardless of what else happens in the other games.

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All the Chargers can focus on is themselves and while it would be awesome to clinch a playoff spot as early as Week 16, it would also be nice to potentially do the same the following week at home in front of Chargers fans.

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