The LA Chargers fell to 4-5 on the season with a loss to the Detroit Lions in Week 10. While this did not outright eliminate the Chargers from the postseason hunt, it was a big blow to a team that really could have benefitted from beating a marquee team like the Lions.
Los Angeles has given itself an even bigger hole to climb out of, especially in an AFC where it might take 10 wins to make the playoffs. If that is the case, the Chargers are going to have to go 5-3 in the last eight games to secure a playoff spot.
On paper, a 5-3 stretch is not asking for too much and a team as talented as the Chargers might be able to pull it off. It might be even easier to pull off considering how the team's remaining strength of schedule compares to the rest of the AFC.
NFL standings based on remaining strength of schedule:
We are going to order the teams from the weakest remaining schedule to the strongest remaining schedule, as having a weak remaining schedule is obviously an advantage.
- Houston Texans - .446 SOS (5-4 record)
- Jacksonville Jaguars - .466 SOS (6-3 record)
- Kansas City Chiefs - .487 SOS (7-2 record)
- LA Chargers - .487 SOS (4-5 record)
- Indianapolis Colts - .492 SOS (5-5 record)
- New England Patriots - .492 SOS (2-8 record)
- Cleveland Browns - .493 SOS (6-3 record)
- Pittsburgh Steelers - .500 SOS (6-3 record)
- Miami Dolphins - .500 SOS (6-3 record)
- New York Jets - .500 SOS (4-5 record)
- Denver Broncos - .520 SOS (4-5 record)
- Tennessee Titans - .548 SOS (3-6 record)
- Baltimore Ravens - .571 SOS (7-3 record)
- Buffalo Bills - .578 SOS (5-5 record)
- Las Vegas Raiders - .600 SOS (5-5 record)
- Cincinnati Bengals - .653 SOS (5-4 record)
Three very important teams round out the toughest remaining schedules in the AFC. The Buffalo Bills, Las Vegas Raiders, and Cincinnati Bengals are all right ahead of the Chargers in the AFC playoff hunt. Those teams losing as many games as possible down the stretch is ideal for the Bolts.
If the Chargers can take care of business and win the games they should win, and those teams stumble with tough matchups, then there is a path in which the Bolts could finish with a playoff spot in the AFC. Having the fourth-easiest remaining schedule in the conference certainly does give LA an advantage.
- New Orleans Saints - .379 SOS (5-5 record)
- Atlanta Falcons - .403 SOS (4-6 record)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers - .413 SOS (4-5 record)
- Green Bay Packers - .453 SOS (3-6 record)
- Detroit Lions - .468 SOS (7-2 record)
- Carolina Panthers - .473 SOS (1-8 record)
- Philadelphia Eagles .474 SOS (8-1 record)
- LA Rams - .494 SOS (3-6 record)
- New York Giants - .500 SOS (2-8 record)
- Washington Commanders - .516 SOS (4-6 record)
- Minnesota Vikings - .523 SOS (6-4 record)
- Chicago Bears - .530 SOS (3-7 record)
- San Francisco 49ers - .533 SOS (6-3 record)
- Dallas Cowboys - .547 SOS (6-3 record)
- Seattle Seahawks - .548 SOS (6-3 record)
- Arizona Cardinals - .578 SOS (2-8 record)
As you can see, it pays off to be in the NFC South. The three easiest schedules remaining in the NFC (which are also the easiest across the entire NFL) belong to NFC South teams. That is what happens when those three teams have a combined four games against the Carolina Panthers.
Minnesota's .523 SOS may lead to the team falling back down to earth with Joshua Dobbs under center but there are only three wild card contenders who currently have a .500 record or better, so Minnesota will probably be able to limp its way into the playoffs regardless.