2. The competition for the playoff spot have much tougher schedules
The reason why 10 wins will likely get the Chargers in is because the other teams in the AFC playoff picture have much tougher schedules to finish out the season. The two teams that are competing for the final playoff spot in the AFC are the New England Patriots and New York Jets.
The Patriots have a 6-6 record heading into their Monday Night Football matchup against the Arizona Cardinals. After losing to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, the New York Jets have fallen to 7-6. They currently have a worse AFC record than the Chargers, giving the Bolts the tiebreaker over them.
New York's final four games are against the Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Seattle Seahawks and Miami Dolphins. That might not seem like the toughest stretch of games but all of those games are losable for a Jets team that has scored 34 combined points the last two weeks. Their final four opponents ranked 13th, 24th, 10th and eighth in DVOA respectively heading into Week 14.
If the Jets and Chargers both finish 10-7, even if the Chargers lose to an AFC team and the Jets lose to an NFC team, the Chargers will get the tiebreaker and get into the playoffs. New York needs to win out or have the Chargers fail to reach 10 wins.
The Patriots currently have the tiebreaker over the Chargers but have a much tougher schedule. After playing Arizona in Week 14, the Patriots have to play the Raiders, Bengals, Dolphins and Bills. It is hard to fins a path to 10 wins for New England with that final stretch.
But let's say the Patriots do get to 10 wins. The Dolphins would be the no. 1 candidate for them to beat in those final three weeks. If that happens, there is a world in which Miami only finishes with 10 wins and loses out to the Chargers because of this key tiebreaker.