Chargers clinch playoffs — and flip the culture — with win over Colts

Los Angeles Chargers v Indianapolis Colts
Los Angeles Chargers v Indianapolis Colts / Justin Casterline/GettyImages

The LA Chargers had a slim chance of clinching a playoff spot at early as Week 16. Los Angeles needed three teams to lose before they even played on Monday Night Football — and then had to turn in a win of their own.

After watching the New York Jets, New England Patriots and Las Vegas Raiders (and the Miami Dolphins, for safe measure) lose, the Chargers went into Lucas Oil Stadium and took care of business. It was a rather mundane victory but was a professional victory nonetheless. The Chargers defeated the Indianapolis Colts, 20-3, to move to 9-6 and clinch a playoff spot.

This is the first time that the Bolts have made the playoffs since 2018. After such a heartbreaking Week 18 loss in 2021, Justin Herbert will finally get to show his skill set on the grandest stage in the AFC Wild Card round. This was a culture-flipping win for the Chargers, who have been the butt of many jokes over the last several seasons.

The turnaround that the Chargers have experienced in the last three weeks has been nothing short of remarkable. After losing an ugly game to the Raiders in Week 13, many Chargers fans thought that the team had no chance of making the playoffs, let alone clinching with two weeks left to play.

The Bolts used that loss as motivation for three straight wins. With all of the results breaking the right way, the Chargers can rest easy knowing that they will be one of the final seven teams in the AFC no matter what.

The Chargers still have something to play for after clinching a playoff spot.

While the LA Chargers do not have to worry about falling out of playoff contention, there still is plenty to play for over the final two weeks. As it stands right now, the Chargers are the sixth seed in the AFC and would play the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Wild Card Round.

Los Angeles is only one game behind the Baltimore Ravens, who play the Pittsburgh Steelers and Bengals in the last two weeks of the season. The Chargers own the tiebreaker so if the Bolts can win out, and the Ravens lose just one, then the Chargers would be the fifth seed in the AFC.

This would be huge as the team would get to play the winner of the AFC South rather than the Bengals or the Kansas City Chiefs in round one. At some point, you have to beat the best to make Super Bowl run but getting an easier round-one opponent helps kickstart that momentum. Just look at last year's Bengals.

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So while the Chargers might be cautious with snap counts and certain decisions they make, don't expect the team to lay over these last two weeks and limp into the playoffs. Los Angeles currently has a lot of momentum and finishing the season with five straight wins would be a fantastic way to head into the playoffs.