Can the Chargers make the playoffs in 2021? Bolts playoff odds after Week 15

Kansas City Chiefs v Los Angeles Chargers
Kansas City Chiefs v Los Angeles Chargers / Kevork Djansezian/GettyImages

The LA Chargers lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime on Thursday Night Football in Week 15 and it muddied the playoff waters for the Chargers. With a win, the Bolts would have controlled their own destiny in winning the AFC West and would have even had a decent shot at the no. 1 seed in the AFC. With a loss, the Bolts are now in the cluster of 8-6 teams in the playoff hunt.

As it currently stands, the Chargers are still in the playoff picture as the sixth seed in the AFC. However, there are a total of four teams (including the Chargers) with an 8-6 record and another five teams with that are 7-7 (7-6-1 in the case of the Steelers).

If the Chargers win out then they make the playoffs and do not even have to worry about tiebreakers and all that. The team's exact seeding would be determined by the other outcomes in the AFC but Charger fans could rest easy knowing that three wins equal a playoff berth. If the Chargers don't go 3-0 down the stretch, though, they are going to need help elsewhere.

Luckily, the LA Chargers have the odds in their favor.

The Chargers playoff odds did go down with the loss to the Chiefs but they still have favorable odds to be one of the final seven AFC teams playing in January. According to The New York Times, the Chargers have a 73% chance of making the playoffs this season. Heading into the week, the Chargers had an 82% chance of making it.

The Bolts have the third-best odds among the several 8-6 teams in the hunt. The Indianapolis Colts have an 83% chance and the Bills have a 74% chance. Meanwhile, the Ravens have a 39% chance and the Bengals have a 33% chance.

FiveThirtyEight's NFL playoff predictions tell a very similar story. In their projections, the Chargers have a 76% chance of making the playoffs while the Colts have an 89% chance and the Bills have a 76% chance. If the Chargers beat the Texans this week, regardless of the other outcomes, their playoff odds jump to 85%.

Historically, an 8-6 record is not as favorable but this season is unlike any season in NFL history. Not only is it the first season in which there are 17 games, but it is only the second season in which seven teams from each conference make the playoffs.

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Since the NFL-AFL merger (excluding the strike seasons of 1982 and 1987) there have been 167 teams to start the season with an 8-6 record. Of those 167, only 44.3% have made the playoffs. The Chargers have started with an 8-6 record four times in franchise history and made the playoffs just one time.