The surprise AFC team that could open a playoff spot for the Chargers

Jason Reed
Miami Dolphins v Los Angeles Chargers
Miami Dolphins v Los Angeles Chargers / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages
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The LA Chargers drastically increased their playoff chances with a surprise win over the Miami Dolphins in Week 15. A loss to Miami would have forced the Chargers to win out but now, they could potentially make the playoffs going 3-1 to get to 10 wins.

With the big win on primetime, it is fair to say that fans have the most optimism in the team that they have had all year. After all, there are several reasons why the Chargers are actually in an excellent spot to make the playoffs this season.

There is also the chance of a surprise team falling down the standings and opening another spot in the playoffs for the Bolts to compete for. As of right now, the main teams that the Chargers are competing with for the final two wild-card spots are the Miami Dolphins, New York Jets and New England Patriots.

However, there is a fourth surprise team that could actually be on the cusp of falling down the standings, potentially giving the Chargers the opportunity to move all the way up to the five seed if they can win out and finish with 11 wins.

The Baltimore Ravens could open another playoff spot for the LA Chargers.

To be clear, the odds are still in the Baltimore Ravens' favor to make the playoffs. This is by no means a concrete prediction that it is going to blow up and they will miss the playoffs entirely. That being said, every year there seems to be one team that really chokes down the stretch and the Ravens have the most likely resume to be that team.

Baltimore is currently 9-4 atop the AFC North (tied with the Cincinnati Bengals but they own the tiebreaker). However, that could change in Week 15 as the Ravens take on the Cleveland Browns without Lamar Jackson. Record-wise the Browns are not great but they are going to have a massive quarterback advantage with Deshaun Watson against Tyler Huntley.

Then the Ravens play the Atlanta Falcons on Christmas Eve. This is the key game in this potential Ravens doomsday scenario. If Baltimore can get the job done against Atlanta then at worst they will be 10-7. It could open the door still for the Chargers to be the fifth seed, but Baltimore should still secure a playoff spot.

However, if Lamar is rusty or does not play and the Falcons bring their A game, which certainly is possible as they are in the race for the NFC South, then they could shock Baltimore. The Ravens will be 6+ point favorites at home but this is definitely an upset spot waiting to happen.

Then Baltimore has two final games that could be a challenge. They host a Steelers team that very nearly beat them in Week 14. Baltimore is the better team but this is such an intense rivalry that you have to throw the records out. There is absolutely a chance that the Steelers could upset the Ravens.

The final game of the season is a road game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Ravens may have beaten them earlier this season but this is a Bengals team that is firing on all cylinders. That is almost certainly going to be a Cincy win unless they rest their starters.

Again, it would take a calamity of errors for this to happen but I would not treat the Ravens like they are some powerhouse that should win every game they are favored in. In fact, Baltimore has benefitted a lot from one-score wins this season. Five of the team's nine wins were by five or fewer points. That is not even including the extremely ugly 13-3 win over the Carolina Panthers.

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All I'm saying is to keep an eye on the Baltimore Ravens. The LA Chargers might have more room to make the playoffs because of them.

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