The Chargers Can (Still) Make the Playoffs

Updated: Dec 29, 2021

The Chargers find themselves in a sticky situation with 2 games left in the regular season.

Two weeks ago, the Chargers controlled their own destiny: all they had to do was win out against the Chiefs, Texans, Broncos, and Raiders to win the AFC West title.

They ended up losing to the Chiefs, but still controlled their road to the wildcard: win the last 3 games and a wild card berth is guaranteed. The Chargers then shocked everyone by losing to the Texans, and now the Chargers find themselves in the hunt instead of in the playoffs.

Here is the situation the Chargers face today:

The Chargers are 8-7, as are 3 other teams. Four teams are 9-6.

In order from 3 seed to 6th seed, it goes:

  1. Bengals, Bills, Colts, Patriots, all at 9-6.

  2. They are followed by Dolphins, Ravens, Chargers, and Raiders: all tied at 8-7.

Paths to the Playoffs

The simplest way for the Chargers to get in is to win out and the competition above lose out. As great as that would be, it is unrealistic. There are, however, realistic scenarios that get the Chargers back into the playoffs.

PATH 1: Chargers Win Out

In the scenarios below, the Chargers must win out and also :

1. Ravens lose 1 (vs either Rams or Steelers) AND Dolphins lose 1 (vs either Titans or Patriots)

2. Colts AND Patriots OR Bills lose out. I think this is highly unlikely: the Colts play the Raiders and Jaguars, Patriots play Jaguars and Dolphins, and Bills play Falcons and Jets.


PATH 2: Chargers Drop One

If Chargers lose another game this season, a playoff berth is still possible. What would need to happen:

A win against the Raiders is a must, as Vegas otherwise has the tie-breaker in Conference record. Sweeping the Raiders gives Chargers the head-to-head tie-breaker. Additionally, one of the following needs to happen:

1. Miami and Baltimore lose out as Ravens hold head-to-head tie breaker and Miami holds common games tie breaker.

2. Baltimore Wins out and Bengals lose 1, giving Baltimore the division and giving Chargers and Bengals a tie, with Chargers owning Head-to-Head tie Breaker, and having a 2nd team lose out, most likely Miami.


It is not impossible for the Chargers to make the playoffs, but it will be very hard and the first step is to get out of their own way and not beat themselves in two winnable games against Denver at home, and the Raiders in Vegas.

Getting everyone back from COVID will help, but Mike Williams will not play vs. Denver so Palmer really needs to step up in that spot if the Chargers are to make the tournamenf.


John Kegley is a Contributing Writer at and a Private First Class in the US Army.

He is a longtime sports commentator known for his sharp analysis and take no prisoners style. His credits include co-hosting Locked on Chargers, San Diego Sports Domination, Chargers Domination Live and Aztec Domination Live. He has been a Chargers Fan since 2004.