After an incredibly disappointing loss to the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 13, the LA Chargers are back at home and back on primetime to take on the Miami Dolphins. While not division rivals, this matchup carries a bit extra juice because of the Justin Herbert vs Tua Tagovailoa storyline that is attached.
This game also has a bit more juice as it is essentially a must-win for the Chargers. Based on the current structure of the AFC, the Chargers need to get to 10 wins to have a good chance of making the playoffs. At 6-6, this means the Bolts have to finish out 4-2 in order to have a good chance of extending the season.
Of course, anything can happen and there is a world in which a 9-8 record gets the team in but they should really be aiming to get to 10 wins. That is why the loss to the Raiders was so painful. That loss put the team behind the eight ball and didn't afford them the luxury of losing to a tough matchup like the Dolphins.
The difference between a win and loss is massive for the LA Chargers in this game. Nothing will be official at the end of the game, but a loss in here will all but end the team's playoff chances, especially with negative momentum mounting.
The Chargers' playoff odds can grow dramatically with a win over the Dolphins.
According to FiveThirtyEight, the Chargers currently have a 31% chance of making the playoffs this season. If the team would have been able to beat the Raiders in Week 13 the odds would have been double that, but alas, it is what it is.
A loss to the Dolphins would put the Chargers in a terrible situation. Without factoring in any other result, a loss in Week 14 would drop LA's playoff chances to just 13%. Another loss to the Titans the following week would essentially end the team's season.
However, the Chargers can also see the inverse effect happen if they shock the Dolphins on primetime. With a win, the Bolts would have roughly a 53% chance of making the playoffs. A win over the Titans the following week, without factoring in anything else, would give the team a 77% chance.
As it stands right now, the two teams that the Chargers are primarily battling with for the final spot in the AFC playoffs are the New York Jets and New England Patriots. The Cincinnati Bengals removed themselves from this conversation with a huge win over the Kansas City Chiefs, giving them a nice cushion for a playoff spot.
Here is what the Chargers' playoff wins would be with each potential Jets and Patriots outcome, assuming the Chargers win:
- Both teams lose: 56%
- Patriots win, Jets lose: 51%
- Jets win, Patriots lose: 48%
- Both teams win: 44%
The Jets play the Bills while the Patriots play the Cardinals. If the Chargers were to lose, and both the Jets and Raiders won, the Bolts' playoff odds would fall to 6%. The season would essentially be over.