5 outcomes in Week 14 that will triple the Chargers' playoff odds

Los Angeles Chargers v New England Patriots
Los Angeles Chargers v New England Patriots / Billie Weiss/GettyImages

The LA Chargers kept their slim playoff hopes alive with an ugly win over the New England Patriots in Week 13. Los Angeles still has a massive uphill climb ahead but the team at least has a chance to control its own destiny and make the playoffs.

Winning out and finishing with a 10-7 record, albeit improbable with how the team has played, would all but guarantee a playoff spot. With several AFC contenders losing in Week 13 (or losing key players), there is now even a path where 9-8 can get the Chargers into the playoffs depending on who they beat.

As it stands right now, the Chargers have a 7% chance of making the playoffs, per the New York Times' NFL Playoff Simulator. While low, the team's chances can nearly triple to 20% after Week 14 if a few specific outcomes were to happen.

5 outcomes that can triple the Chargers' playoff chances:

1. LA Chargers defeat Denver Broncos

Let's get the obvious one out of the way. The Chargers have to beat the Broncos this week if the team wants any chance of making a playoff run. A 5-8 record would create too big of a hole to dig out of and would also make the Broncos' path to the playoffs much easier.

The Chargers will still have a 1% chance, per the New York Times, if they lose to Denver. But that will effectively be all she wrote on the 2023 season.

2. New England Patriots defeat Pittsburgh Steelers

Week 14's Thursday Night Football game is going to be a doozy as the tanking Patriots take on an already questionable Steelers team that now has to turn to Mitch Trubisky to start for them at quarterback.

The Steelers are at home and they are six-point favorites in this game, so the odds are in their favor. However, with a good New England defense, anything can happen. It might be better for the Patriots to lose games at this point, but if there was ever a game for them to steal, it is on a short week againts a backup QB.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars defeat Cleveland Browns

Barring a collapse down the stretch, the Jaguars shouldn't be in the hunt for an AFC Wild Card spot and will instead win the division. Thus, the Jags winning games does not hurt the Chargers in the grand scheme of things. Instead, it would help the Chargers much more if they beat the Cleveland Browns, who are right in the thick of the clustered AFC playoff picture.

While Cleveland's defense is undoubtedly elite, the Browns are down both Nick Chubb and Deshaun Watson. Joe Flacco's valiant effort went for naught in Week 13 as Cleveland fell to 7-5. If the Browns cannot win this week against Jacksonville then it is really hard to see them going 3-1 down the stretch to finish with 10 wins.

4. Kansas City Chiefs defeat Buffalo Bills

The Chargers have no chance of winning the AFC West this season. Thus, Chargers fans have to do the painful thing of rooting for the Chiefs when it can help the Bolts. That is exactly the situation fans find themselves in for Week 14's slate.

A loss to the Chiefs would make the Bills 6-7 on the season, which would be the same record as the Chargers assuming they beat the Broncos. If the Chargers can beat the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday Night Football in Week 15, they would head into an ever-so-important Week 16 game against the Buffalo Bills that could decide the final playoff spot in the AFC.

5. New York Jets defeat Houston Texans

The Jets were viewed as competition for an AFC wild card spot but they have fallen out of the hunt. With a 4-8 record, the absolute best the Jets could finish is 9-8 and the chances of the team winning out are all but zero.

However, a win against the Texans in Week 14 would be great for the Chargers. Houston's keeps winning games and a win against the Jets would already give the team eight wins. The Chargers need the Texans to stay at seven wins heading into Week 15.

Other important games for Chargers fans to watch:

Indianapolis Colts vs Cincinnati Bengals

Both teams are in the AFC playoff picture and one matchup isn't any more favorable than the other in terms of playoff odds. A Bengals win is probably better for the Chargers, though, as it would make both the Colts and Bengals 7-6 on the season.

The Colts and Bengals both have tough games down the stretch and both team may struggle to win two of the last four. That is why keeping the Colts at 7-6 instead of 8-5 is more favorable for the Chargers.

Minnesota Vikings at Las Vegas Raiders

This game does not impact the Chargers' playoff chances at all (according to the simulation) but it would still help the Bolts in the grand scheme if the Raiders lose to an NFC team. This would give the Raiders a 5-8 record and give the Chargers a chance to end their season on Thursday Night Football.

A win for the Chargers and the Raiders makes next Thursday's game another loser leaves town match for the Bolts.