Week 18 games that will determine the Chargers 2022 opponents
By Jason Reed
For the last few weeks, fans of the LA Chargers have been watching other NFL games with a keen eye as they impacted the Bolts' chances of making the playoffs. Now, with the Chargers controlling their own destiny against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 18, there are no other playoff matchups for Charger fans to worry about. Just worry about beating the Raiders.
However, there are other games in Week 18 that will impact the Chargers... they just won't impact the Chargers until 2022. While 14 of the Chargers' opponents are already set for the 2022 season, there are three opponents that are determined based on where the Chargers finish in the division.
And of course, if the Chargers win against the Raiders then they will finish second in the AFC West. If they lose they will finish third in the AFC West. A Denver win and Chargers loss cannot push LA to fourth place in the division. Obviously, we hope that the Chargers end up as the second seed so they make the playoffs, which helps us pinpoint who the Chargers might be adding to the schedule in 2022.
Week 18 games that impact the Chargers 2022 opponents
1. New Orleans Saints vs Atlanta Falcons
The LA Chargers will take on one team from the NFC South as part of the extra 17th opponent in 2022. No matter what happens the Chargers will not be playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2022 or the Carolina Panthers. They are either going to play the New Orleans Saints or the Atlanta Falcons.
The Saints are in a similar situation as the Chargers as they can win and get into the playoffs so they have more to play for in this matchup. However, they still need more help as they need the San Francisco 49ers to also lose to the LA Rams. The Rams helped the Chargers last week, maybe they will help the Saints this week.
The Falcons can still finish in second place in the NFC South with a win even if they are already eliminated from the playoffs. The Chargers will essentially play whichever team matches their outcome in Week 18. If the Bolts win they play the winner. If they lose they play the loser. If the Saints and Falcons tie then the Saints will be in second place.
2. New York Jets at Buffalo Bills; New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins
No matter what the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots will come in first and second place in the AFC East. However, while the Bills lead, the Patriots can still win the division if they beat the Dolphins in Week 18 and the Bills lose to the Jets. It might not seem that likely, but the Bills lost to the Jets earlier this season.
If the Chargers beat the Raiders then they will probably play the Patriots for the second year in a row in 2022 as they are more likely to come in second. However, if the Patriots do end up in first, the Chargers would play the Bills.
If the Bolts lose then they would play the Dolphins next season. Regardless of who it is, the Chargers will host their AFC East opponent.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens
Finally, the LA Chargers will be on the road against an AFC North opponent next season. Both the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers have a slim chance of making the playoffs but both teams need the Colts to lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars. That probably is not going to happen.
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However, like with the Falcons and Saints, the winner of this game will finish second in the AFC North regardless. If the Chargers beat the Raiders then they will play the winner of this game on the road. If they lose then they will play the loser on the road.