After defeating the LA Rams in Week 17 and watching the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Baltimore Ravens on primetime, the LA Chargers are the fifth seed in the AFC. As long as the Bolts are able to beat the Denver Broncos in Week 18 they will secure the fifth seed, regardless of what else happens.
This is something that the Chargers are definitely pushing to do. Brandon Staley expressed that he sees an advantage in being the fifth seed and that the team will be playing hard to win in Week 18. There won't be any resting starters (unless the game gets out of hand like the Rams game).
If the Chargers do end up as the fifth seed they will play the winner of the Tennessee Titans/Jacksonville Jaguars game on Saturday night. Los Angeles split against the two AFC South foes this season and either way, it is a far better matchup than having to play one of the top three AFC teams in the Wild-Card Round.
Not only is it a better matchup on paper but historically the LA Chargers have done very well against the AFC South in the playoffs since its inception in 2002.
The LA Chargers are undefeated against the AFC South in the playoffs.
To be fair, it is a small sample size but it is still impressive nonetheless. The Chargers have played three playoff games against the AFC South and have won all three; two of which were against the Indianapolis Colts and one against the Tennessee Titans.
The two Colts wins are two of the most iconic playoff wins in franchise history. The first game in 2007 (after beating the Titans in the first round), which was the game that Philip Rivers tore his ACL. Backup quarterback Billy Volek scored on a QB sneak with 4:50 left to take the lead and the Chargers would go on to win and advance to the AFC Championship.
The following year the Chargers knocked the Colts out of the playoffs again. This was the infamous Darren Sproles game in which LaDainian Tomlinson was injured and Sproles turned in a career performance, including a game-winning touchdown run in overtime.
Great things seem to happen when the Chargers play AFC South teams in the playoffs, which is almost worrisome for this season. While history tends to repeat itself, the trend may also break if the Chargers are not careful.
Regardless, the Chargers will be much better off against either the Jaguars or Titans and as long as they take care of business, it could be the perfect first game to give the team some momentum for what fans hope is a deep Super Bowl run.