Bolts Need to Beat Bengals for Berth

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images

    A couple months ago, everybody was writing off the Chargers. Not any more.

    Win at home Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals and the San Diego Chargers are in the playoffs for the fourth straight season. That's as simple as Philip Rivers wants to keep it. He knows the Chargers can also clinch their fourth straight AFC West title and a first-round bye, although those scenarios involve other teams.

    The Chargers improved to 10-3 with Sunday's 20-17 win at Dallas, their eighth straight win. Cincinnati is 9-4 after a 30-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

    San Diego has a two-game lead in the AFC West over the Denver Broncos. To clinch a first-round bye, the Chargers must beat Cincinnati and have Denver lose or tie against Oakland and the New England Patriots lose or tie at Buffalo.

    The fate of the Bolts seemed much different in October, when the then-division leading Denver Broncos beat the Chargers 34-23 in Week 5, dropping San Diego's record to 2-3.