The LA Chargers were officially eliminated from playoff contention in Week 16 but the season was already over weeks before that. Losing to the Denver Broncos in Week 14, and losing Justin Herbert for the rest of the year, was the unofficial end of the season for the Bolts.
With Brandon Staley getting fired after Week 15, the focus for the Bolts has turned to the upcoming offseason. If the Chargers want to right the ship and contend next season the team is going to need to make the right head coach hire and needs to put together a good draft class.
That is why Chargers fans have started rooting against their favorite team. The more losses that are piled up the better draft position the Bolts will be in. As it stands right now, the Chargers have the sixth overall pick and can potentially climb a spot or two if the team loses out.
With the Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs on the schedule to end the season, many have assumed that the Bolts will lose out. However, that objective may be tougher in Week 17, as the Broncos are seemingly waiving the white flag on the season and are benching starting quarterback Russell Wilson.
Chargers' draft position would be hurt tremendously with a win over the Broncos
Denver is a much easier team to beat with Jarret Stidham under center and this gives the Chargers a chance. Unfortunately, this is the last thing that fans want as a win over Denver would hurt the Bolts' draft position.
If the Chargers were to win and every other 5-10 and 6-9 team were to lose then they would jump from the sixth pick to the ninth pick. That may not seem like a big jump, but when we are talking about prospects like Brock Bowers, it is. If Kansas City also rests its starters in Week 18 the Chargers could get in more trouble as there are a slew of NFL teams right now with seven wins.
The Broncos are still the better team, especially with this game being played in Denver. Wilson sitting makes this game winnable for the Chargers, though. Wilson is not sitting because he has been playing poorly. In fact, he has been quite good this season for the Broncos.
Instead, the Broncos are sitting Wilson for "future financial flexibility". Wilson has $39 million guaranteed for next season and if he fails a physical next March, another $37 million would become guaranteed. Essentially, Denver is not risking a Wilson injury over the last two weeks, as it would cost them an extra $37 million.
With the Broncos only having an 8% chance of making the playoffs entering Week 17, it is clear that the team is taking the long-term approach. Unfortunately, that may hurt the Chargers.