The LA Chargers entered Arrowhead Stadium in Week 7 desperately needing a win against the Kansas City Chiefs. After falling to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 6, the Chargers needed the win to avoid falling to the dreaded 2-4.
Los Angeles did not play like a team that desperately needed a victory. The Chargers squandered multiple chances to steal this game away from the Chiefs and ultimately lost in sad fashion. This has prompted many fans to check out on the season and accept that the playoffs are out of the realm of possibility.
A 2-4 team definitely has a very slim chance of making the playoffs but it is not completely over for the Chargers. They still control their own destiny. With all of the AFC games in the books prior to Monday Night Football, here is how things are shaking out.
AFC Playoff picture after Week 7:
1. Kansas City Chiefs (6-1)
The Chiefs secured their spot atop the AFC with their win over the Chargers in Week 7. The defending Super Bowl Champions lost in Week 1 and have pulled out win after win since then. Even when they don't look perfect, they win games.
2. Miami Dolphins (5-2)
A loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on primetime did not kick Miami off the AFC East throne thanks to a shocking Buffalo Bills loss to the New England Patriots. That being said, Miami has fallen short against each playoff-caliber foe it has faced.
3. Baltimore Ravens (5-2)
The Ravens shocked many people in the NFL world by completely beating the brakes off of the Detroit Lions in Week 7. Baltimore is the real deal and Lamar Jackson is playing like a top-five quarterback in the NFL.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-2)
The Jaguars have to be the wonkiest 5-2 team in the NFL. That is what will happen when you spend half a month in London and catch both the Falcons and Bills off-guard overseas. The AFC South was crowded at first but it is crystalizing for the Jags.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2)
Mike Tomlin is doing Mike Tomlin things as the Steelers have overcome sub-standard quarterback play and bad offensive play-calling to march out to a 4-2 record. Ironically enough, the Steelers have a worse point differential than the Chargers.
6. Cleveland Browns (4-2)
The Cleveland Browns are 4-2 behind what might be the best defense in the league. But it didn't look like the best in Week 7, as the Browns were just barely able to edge out a win over the Indianapolis Colts in a high-scoring game.
7. Buffalo Bills (4-3)
Are the Bills a legitimate Super Bowl contender? So far the answer appears to be no. The sky is always the limit with Josh Allen under center but the Bills have lost three winnable games thus far. Buffalo's schedule is only going to get tougher as the year goes along.
In the hunt: Houston Texans (3-3), New York Jets (3-3), Cincinnati Bengals (3-3)
These are the teams the Chargers should be concerned with and it is hard to see the Bolts usurping any of these teams. Maybe the Texans will fall off with a rookie quarterback but both the Jets and Bengals have an elite defense that will keep them in every single game.
Outside looking in: Indianapolis Colts (3-4), Las Vegas Raiders (3-4), Tennessee Titans (2-4), LA Chargers (2-4)
This is the group that the Chargers find themselves in and it is going to take a major run for any of these teams to find themselves in a playoff spot come January. The Chargers probably have the most raw talent of any of these teams, but they also probably have the worst coach (and that is saying something with Josh McDaniels beign one of the coaches).
No real chance: New England Patriots (2-5), Denver Broncos (2-5)
Don't let the Week 7 wins convince you otherwise for these two teams. Neither the Patriots or Broncos are a good football team and there is no chance they will make the playoffs. Could they surpass the Chargers? Probably. Will they be one of the final 7 standing? Not a chance.