The LA Chargers were put in a tough situation after losing to the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 13 to fall to 6-6. With two AFC playoff opponents in back-to-back weeks, the Chargers had to string together their two most impressive wins of the season. They did just that.
Now, the Chargers are sitting as the sixth seed in the AFC with an 8-6 record. Things have turned around so quickly, in fact, that the Bolts can actually clinch a playoff spot at early as Week 16. It would take a collection of positive results, but it is physically possible.
Fans shouldn't panic if the New York Jets win on Thursday Night Football and instantly stop the Chargers' chances of clinching in Week 16. The Bolts still have the easiest remaining schedule in the league with the Indianapolis Colts, LA Rams and Denver Broncos to finish out the season.
The Week 16 matchup against the Colts already got easier with Jonathan Taylor landing on the IR due to an ankle sprain. Somehow things continue to get easier for the Bolts, as the LA Rams are dealing with a pair of new injuries are are not insignificant.
The Chargers should take care of the Rams easily if they are truly a playoff team.
The job is not finished and the Bolts still have to go out and complete the task at hand. If there is anything that the NFL teaches us every week (especially when it comes to the Chargers) it is not to take anything for granted. While the final three games are against easy teams on paper, anything can happen.
That being said, if the Chargers are truly a playoff-caliber team then they should take care of business in the next two weeks. That is what playoff-caliber teams do: they win important games when they have to, especially against lesser opponents.
The Rams, in particular, are a fairly easy matchup and are far worse off now than they were at the beginning of the season. Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp not playing kills the entire heart and soul of the offense. With Aaron Donald dealing with an injury and the Rams being eliminated from contention, they might play it safe with him as well.
This is an offense led by Baker Mayfield that is going to be without its starting center in addition to the other injuries they are dealing with. Add in the fact that the best remaining receiver is now out as well and it is really hard to see how the Rams will even be able to put up points against the Chargers.
The Bolts have to get past the Colts first. They cannot overlook them and start preparing for the playoffs. But with wins over the next two weeks, the Chargers can reach 10 wins and likely clinch a playoff berth. That is much easier to do with the injuries that both teams are dealing with.