Friday, November 12, 2010

How the Chargers Will Make the Playoffs

After winning the last two games against a couple of the tougher teams on their schedule, the Chargers, even after an atrocious start, have set themselves up to make the playoffs. At 4-5, with a bunch of injured players coming back after the bye week, one could even make the case for the Chargers to be the favorite (again) to win the division. Here's the breakdown of predictions:

Denver at SD: W

SD at Indianapolis: L (although the Chargers could very likely win this one)

Kansas City at SD: W

Oakland at SD: W

San Francisco at SD: W

SD at Cincinnati: W

SD at Denver: W

The last two on the road at Cincinnati and Denver are the scariest, but the Chargers are better, surging, and should win these games. This would put San Diego at 10-6 for the season. Now let's take a look at current division leader Kansas City:

KC at Denver: W (for KC)

Arizona at KC: W

KC at Seattle: L

Denver at KC: W

KC at SD: L

KC at St. Louis L

Tennessee at KC: L

Oakland at KC: W

This puts the Chiefs at 9-7 and one game behind the Chargers for the division. This is precarious for the Chargers because if the the Chiefs step up and win even one game they're not "supposed to," this leaves the division tied, and the playoff decision will fall to tiebreaker scenarios.

Let's take a look at the Raiders (5-4), who also lead the Chargers in the division:

Oakland at Pittsburgh: L (for Oakland)

Miami at Oakland: W

Oakland at SD: L

Oakland at Jacksonville: L

Denver at Oakland: W

Indianapolis at Oakland: L

Oakland at KC: L

This puts the Raiders at 7-9 and out of playoff contention. Although they just beat the Chiefs last week and seem to be a team on the upswing at this point in the season, their schedule is much tougher than KC's or the Chargers' going forward.

Although there are too many variables, and the Chargers should have never put themselves in this hole to begin with, most sober analysts would have to make them the favorite to return to the playoffs. However, it will be unlikely that they will earn a buy, making it more likely that the road forward in the playoffs. May mean a game against an AFC South team at home, then, if they can survive, the road to the Super Bowl would go on the road through Pittsburgh, Indy, New York or New England. If the rest of the season does work out as I've predicted, we'll no doubt hear proclamations of the Chargers being the team "nobody wants to face" after having won seven of their last eight. Deja vu?

Let's just hope they can get in.

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