The LA Chargers are playing the last game of the 2021 NFL season as they take on the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday Night Football. This is a playoff game before the playoffs begin as the winning team will be in the playoffs and the losing team will be stuck at home watching.
While the Chargers are absolutely focused on the Raiders and they have to get past Vegas first, it is fair to at least ponder on who the team could play in the first round of the playoffs if they do make it. Barring some Week 18 craziness, if the Chargers do make it, they are going to be the seventh seed in the AFC and will take on the second seed. The team itself is not going to overlook the Raiders in favor of looking ahead at a playoff matchup, but we can.
The no. 1 seed is on the line on Sunday in the Tennessee Titans-Houston Texans game. If the Titans win then they will be the top seed in the AFC. If they lose, regardless of what else happens, the Kansas City Chiefs will be the top seed in the AFC as they beat the Denver Broncos on Saturday.
Most Charger fans want to see the Chiefs in the first round of the playoffs since the Chargers play them well and are familiar with them this season. While that is certainly true, it is actually better for the Bolts if the Titans shockingly lose (or tie) the Texans and become the second seed in the AFC.
Why the LA Chargers should root for the Chiefs to be the top seed in the AFC:
It all comes down to Derrick Henry. Henry was not designated to return from injury in Week 18 but all signs are pointing to him returning to the playoffs. He is exactly the reason why Charger fans do not want to see the Titans in the playoffs, though, as he could run all over this defense.
However, the way I look at it, if the Chargers are going to make a run then they are going to have to play both the Chiefs and the Titans regardless. In certain cases, you could hope for a better matchup in the wild-card round and hope that the bad matchup is going to lose in that same round. That is not the case for the Chargers since they would theoretically be the seventh seed and face the no. 1 and no. 2 seeds no matter what if they won in the wild-card round.
So if the Chargers have to beat both teams regardless then I would much rather see Derrick Henry next weekend rather than him getting another week to practice and get back into the swing of things. He is going to be dangerous either way, but he will be less dangerous if he plays in the wild-card round.
And if the Bolts lose then they would not have made it past the Divisional Round anyway. If the Chargers win then they suddenly have some momentum heading into a very winnable Chiefs game. Suddenly, it becomes a lot easier to talk yourself into the Bolts making the AFC Championship Game.
Of course, the Chargers have to get there first and the team cannot put the cart in front of the horse. However, there still is something to root for in the morning slate of games.