Tampa Bay Buccaneers over Buffalo Bills
Everything we just wrote about the Cincinnati Bengals in their Week 14 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers can be copied into this slide. The Buffalo Bills are also a wild-card team with a 7-5 record this season and any added cushion that the Chargers can get the better. Some of these games have no. 1 seed implications, some have AFC West implications and some simply have wild-card implications. That is the beauty of December football.
There is a reality in which both the Bills and Bengals lose, and even if the other outcomes do not happen, the Chargers' playoff chances would be exponentially higher. If both the Bills and Bengals lose then the Bolts would have a one-game lead over every single other team in the AFC playoff picture. That is huge with only four more games on the schedule and a good conference record.
The Chargers playoff chances would go through the roof if they beat the Giants and both the Bengals and Bills lost their games, and quite frankly, that is not that far-fetched. The 49ers and Bucs are two really good football teams.
Using ESPN's playoff machine, we can simulate all of the matchups from Week 14 and get a clearer look at the potential AFC playoff picture. If all of the outcomes mentioned in this article (including Pittsburgh and Denver) happened, then the Chargers would be the second seed in the AFC. The playoff seeding would be as followed:
1. New England Patriots (9-4)
2. LA Chargers (8-5)
3. Tennessee Titans (8-5)
4. Baltimore Ravens (8-5)
5. Kansas City Chiefs (8-5)
6. Indianapolis Colts (7-6)
7. Las Vegas Raiders (7-6)
All of the outcomes mentioned obviously won't happen but as you can see, the AFC playoff picture is as fickle as it comes and every single outcome has some sort of impact.