The LA Chargers put it all on the line against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 12 and it paid off. The gutsy call to go for the win with a two-point conversion drastically helped the team's playoff chances and may have saved Brandon Staley's job in the process.
The 6-5 Chargers look to keep it rolling against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 13. Las Vegas needs to essentially win out in order to make the playoffs, making every game from here on out a must-win. The Chargers can technically afford a loss but with two tough games in Weeks 14 and 15, a win is much-needed.
According to The New York Times' playoff simulator, the Chargers currently have a 45% chance of making the playoffs this season. Week 13 presents a real fork-in-the-road moment, as the Chargers could either drastically improve their chances or decrease their chances depending on the outcome.
The Chargers need to be rooting for other key outcomes as well.
The Chargers are in the thick of the AFC playoff chase with several other teams also looking to secure a wild-card spot. With the top wild-card spot almost certainly going to Miami or Buffalo, the Chargers are competing with the Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets and New England Patriots for spots six and seven.
According to the previously mentioned simulator, the Chargers' odds of making the playoffs would jump to 56% without even factoring in the other potential Week 13 outcomes.
All three teams that the Chargers are competing with have to play tough opponents in Week 13, which is why Week 13 could be a launching off point if the Bolts can take advantage. The Bengals take on the Kansas City Chiefs, the Jets take on the Minnesota Vikings and the Patriots take on the Buffalo Bills.
Here is what the Chargers' playoff odds would be with a win and all of the possible Week 13 outcomes involving those three teams:
- All three teams lose: 70%
- Jets win, Bengals and Patriots lose: 64%
- Patriots win, Bengals and Jets lose: 64%
- Bengals win, Jets and Patriots lose: 63%
- Bengals win, Jets win, Patriots lose: 58%
- Patriots win, Jets win, Bengals lose: 58%
- Bengals win, Patriots win, Jets lose: 57%
- All three teams win: 52%
As long as the Chargers can win their game they will have over a 50% chance of making the playoffs this season. If chalk can hold (Chargers are favored while the other three teams are not this week) then the Bolts' playoff odds shoot up astronomically.
However, a Chargers loss can be devastating. The worst-case scenario would be losing to the Raiders and having the other three teams all win. If that happens, the Chargers' playoff odds would fall all the way to 26%. If the Chargers were to lose and the other three teams also lose, LA's playoff odds would be 36%.
Regardless, we could see a huge swing in the Chargers' playoff odds this week so it is imperative that the team takes care of business and lets the rest fall into place.