The LA Chargers showed up in Cincinnati in Week 13 and took care of business against the Cincinnati Bengals. This was arguably the most important game of the season to date and with all of the playoff implications, is the team's biggest win since defeating the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3.
The Bengals and Chargers are now tied at 7-5 in the AFC playoff picture with the same conference record and the Chargers owning the head-to-head tiebreaker. A loss to the Bengals would have put the Chargers in a bigger hole as they would have lost any playoff tiebreaker against Cincinnati. That is what made the win so important.
Last week we touched on the Chargers playoff chances after losing to the Denver Broncos and moving to 6-5 on the season. Winning in Week 13 and moving to 7-5 instead of 6-6 had massive playoff implications and it is much easier to like the team's playoff chances this week than we did a week ago.
The LA Chargers playoff chances with a 7-5 record:
According to the New York Times' NFL Playoff chances, the LA Chargers now have a 63% chance of making the playoffs in 2021 and a 25% chance of winning the AFC West as well. Even better, this win, mixed with losses by Denver and Las Vegas, gives the Broncos and Raiders a bleak 21% and 13% chance to make the playoffs, respectfully.
In fact, if the LA Chargers can beat the New York Giants next week and go on to beat the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 14 then they will be in the driver's seat and be in first place in the AFC West, regardless of what Kansas City does in Week 13 against the Raiders (most likely win).
The Chargers enjoyed a massive jump in their playoff chances with the win. Prior to Week 13, the Chargers had just a 45% chance of making the playoffs. While the Bolts jumped 18% higher, the Bengals fell 19% lower down to just 48%. The Chargers are currently the sixth seed while the Bengals are the seventh seed.
The LA Chargers playoff chances at 7-5 historically:
Since the NFL-AFL merger (not including the shortened 1982 and 1987 seasons), there have been 188 teams to start with a 7-5 record. Of those 188 teams, 95 (50.5%) ended up making the playoffs. Of course, this year is unlike any other with it being the first season with 17 games and the second season with seven playoff teams but that is the historical context of the record.
The Chargers have started with a 7-5 record five times with the last instance coming in the 2007 season. Of those five teams, three made the playoffs and two made it to the AFC Championship Game and lost.
While 50.5% is not that high of a number, it is double the chances of making the playoffs with a 6-6 record historically. Only 46 of the 191 teams (24.1%) to start with a 6-6 record made the playoffs. There have also been five Charger teams to start with a 6-6 record. Not a single one ended up making the playoffs.
Both historically and in the context of this season, the Chargers' Week 13 win over the Bengals was massive.