The final AFC playoff picture:
1. Kansas City Chiefs (13-4)
2. Tennessee Titans (11-6)
3. Baltimore Ravens (11-6)
4. Buffalo Bills (11-6)
5. New England Patriots (11-6)
6. Indianapolis Colts (10-7)
7. Cincinnati Bengals (10-7)
8. Las Vegas Raiders (9-8)
9. LA Chargers (9-8)
The rest of the conference ends up with losing records and these are the nine teams that we are projecting to finish above .500 and enter Week 18 with a chance to make the playoffs. As you probably noticed, we have the LA Chargers finishing as the ninth seed in the conference.
The interesting thing about the Chargers is that they play the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 18 to end the season. As mentioned at the beginning of the article, we are expecting the Chargers to split with the Raiders and thus lose the Week 18 game. The Raiders will be 8-9 and will mostly be looking to play spoiler and will probably succeed knowing how the Chargers let us down.
However, flipping that game does not even change the playoff picture at all. Based on the outcomes that have already happened and the outcomes that we are predicting, the Chargers would miss out on tiebreakers in favor of the Colts and the Bengals.
This shows that a 4-2 record to finish the season for the Bolts does not guarantee anything. In reality, the Chargers' Week 13 game against the Bengals is going to have massive playoff implications. The result will essentially swing the conference record by two games for the winning party and there is a good chance that these teams finish with the same record.
To put it into perspective, if the Chargers manage to beat the Bengals and Raiders, only losing to the Chiefs in the last six games, then they will be the sixth seed and take on the Baltimore Ravens in the first round. If they beat the Bengals they can still lose to the Raiders (based on my predictions) and finish as the seventh seed to take on the Tennessee Titans.