Chargers in Control of Playoff Fate — For Now

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As they prepare for Sunday night’s huge game with the New England Patriots, the Chargers will have the advantage of seeing results from the rest of the league.

You think they’ll be watching the scoreboard?

Either way, Bolts fans can sit back and watch the rest of the slate of NFL games to shore up the playoff competition in the AFC with the knowledge that they control their own destiny in the playoff race. Not that it will be easy, especially with the conference-leading Pats in town.

A check of the standings shows just how big that win over the Baltimore Ravens was on Sunday (top six teams make the playoffs).

1. Patriots – 9-3 (East leader)
2. Broncos – 9-3 (West leader)
3. Bengals – 8-3-1 (North leader)
4. Colts – 8-4 (South leader)
5. Chargers – 8-4 (Wild card)
6 Dolphins – 7-5 (Wild card)
7. Chiefs – 7-5
8. Bills – 7-5
9. Ravens – 7-5
10. Steelers – 7-5
11. Browns – 7-5

The Bolts are able to avoid that logjam at the bottom – for now. Even, better, they control their own destiny for a playoff spot, although the road won't be easy.

Let’s take a look at who to watch and which teams to cheer in order to help the Chargers.

Looking at the Week 14 schedule, there are only a few games that mean much in the playoff chase, but they all loom large.

In the 10 a.m. games, Pittsburgh battles Cincinnati in a huge game for the AFC North title. Bolts fans probably want to see the Steelers win this one, bringing them closer to the division-leading Bengals. But a Pittsburgh loss would also put them closer to elimination. So it’s a bit of a win-win for the rest of the conference.

Also at 10, Baltimore travels to Miami to battle the resurgent Dolphins. Chargers fans are rooting hard for the Ravens. Why? They’re our new best friends, since the Bolts would hold a head-to-head tiebreaker advantage over them. Also, let’s not forget the 37-0 drubbing the Dolphins dished out on the Bolts earlier this year.

In one other early game of significance, the South-leading Colts head to Cleveland. You should probably be rooting for them to win, as they would knock the Browns another notch down. And let’s be honest, do you really see anyone competing with Indy for that division?

Two of the late games involve division foes. Obviously, we’re looking for both to lose – Broncos to the Bills and Chiefs to the Cardinals. But again, a Denver win wouldn’t be the worst thing. Yes, it would move them closer to wrapping up the West, but it would also help take the Bills out of the wild card race.

A lot will go down before the Chargers take the field on Sunday night. Let’s hope most of it goes their way.

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