Chargers playoff picture: How Week 15 outcomes impact Bolts' playoff odds

Miami Dolphins v Los Angeles Chargers
Miami Dolphins v Los Angeles Chargers / Harry How/GettyImages

The LA Chargers received a huge boost to their playoff chances in Week 14 when the team shockingly defeated the Miami Dolphins. After losing to the Las Vegas Raiders the week prior, Week 14 was a must-win game for the Chargers and that is exactly what they did.

It is not hard to blame any Chargers fans for feeling optimistic about the team's playoff chances after Week 14's win. There are several reasons why the Bolts are in a prime position to make a run, finish the season hot and be one of the seven AFC teams left standing after Week 18.

The Chargers are not alone, though, as there are four teams vying for the final two playoff spots in the AFC. Along with the Chargers the 8-5 Dolphins, 7-6 Jets and 7-6 Patriots are firmly in the hunt. Thus, Chargers fans have to pay close attention to three other teams in addition to the Bolts not just this week, but moving forward.

How Week 15 outcomes impact the Chargers playoff odds:

This could be a big swing week for the LA Chargers, who have the easiest final three games of any team in the hunt. Los Angeles plays the Indianapolis Colts, LA Rams and Denver Broncos to finish out the season. This week, the Jets play the Detroit lions, the Dolphins play the Buffalo Bills and the Patriots play the Raiders.

According to FiveThirtyEight, the Chargers currently have a 55% chance of making the playoffs. If the Chargers beat the Titans in Week 15, without factoring in any other outcome, they will have a 76% chance of making the playoffs. That can increase with various different outcomes. Here is how each outcome for the other three AFC teams would impact the Chargers' playoff odds:

  • All three teams lose: 85%
  • Jets win, Dolphins and Patriots lose: 79%
  • Dolphins win, Jets and Patriots lose: 79%
  • Patriots win, Jets and Dolphins lose: 76%
  • Dolphins and Jets win, Patriots lose: 72%
  • Patriots and Jets win, Dolphins lose: 70%
  • Patriots and Dolphins win, Jets lose: 65%
  • All three teams win: 61%

Regardless of what happens, if the Chargers can win in Week 15 they will have over a 60% chance of making the playoffs. However, those odds can jump all the way to 85% if the other three teams lose. Based on these percentages, the Jets seem to be the least impactful team while the Dolphins and Patriots both have a big impact.

The worst-case scenario for the Chargers would be losing and seeing all three of the other teams win. If that were to happen, the team's playoff odds would fall all the way to 18%. The Bolts would not be out of it but they would have to win out in their final three games and get some help from other teams.

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Regardless, the Chargers essentially control their own destiny and only have one more tough game to play. If they are truly a playoff team, they should take care of business against Tennessee.