AFC playoff picture: what the Chargers need to happen in week 12

With the Thanksgiving day victory over the Cowboys, the Chargers are right in the thick of the AFC playoff picture. They're firmly in the hunt for the division as well as for the wildcard, currently competing with the Titans, Bills, Ravens, and a slew of 4-6 teams for two spots. Here's what Charger fans should be rooting for in the games this week:



The Chiefs are currently in free-fall as they attempt to hold off the Chargers for the AFC West lead. After starting out 5-0, they've lost four of five and are now just 6-4 and a game and a half ahead of the Chargers. Since the Chargers still have one game left against the Chiefs, if they win that they'll need to make-up just a half more game the rest of the season.

The Chiefs host the Bills this week and are heavy favorites, currently favored by about ten points in Vegas. Although the Chargers are technically competing with the Bills for a wildcard spot, the Bills are clearly giving up on the season and don't really view themselves as contenders. They also still have to play the Patriots twice. It may actually be better for the Chargers if the Bills pull the upset because it will help the Chargers' division odds greatly and the Bills still likely won't be serious threats to win the wildcard.



The Titans are 6-4 and would earn the top wildcard spot if the season ended today. Them going down to the 3-7 Colts would be huge for the Charges' playoff chances. The Colts are 3.5 point underdogs, but the good news is Jacoby Brissett will be under center for them after he was able to clear the concussion protocol. The Titans have several tough games left including a road trip to Arizona, a home date with the Rams, and a second matchup with the Jaguars in the final game of the season. If they drop this game to the Colts, their playoff odds are in serious doubt.


2016 first-round pick Paxton Lynch will get his first start of the season for the Broncos in this AFC West matchup as they appear to be throwing in the towel on the season at 3-7. They'll face the 4-6 Raiders in Oakland. The Raiders will be playing their first game since they fired their defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. as part of an effort to right a sinking ship. The game is an absolute must-win for the Raiders as a loss will just about end their season. They have a pretty tough last few weeks of the season as they still have to face the Chiefs, Eagles, and Chargers. As of right now, neither of the two teams behind them in the AFC West are much of a threat to the Chargers but a Raiders loss would be nice to give them some breathing room in second place.


This might be the biggest game of the week for the Chargers. The Texans take on the Ravens on Monday Night Football and a Texans win would be huge. The Ravens are currently 5-5 and a half game ahead of the Chargers for the second wildcard slot. They also have a relatively easy schedule the rest of the way, so they need to start losing soon. If Tom Savage and the Texans can pull off the upset as seven-point underdogs, it would be huge for the Chargers' playoff chances.


Those are the four biggest games this week for determining the playoff seeding. If just a couple of those games go the Chargers' way, they'll more or less control their own destiny the rest of the way. After many declared the Chargers dead after week four, they are still very much alive.


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