The Los Angeles Chargers lost a sloppy game to the Denver Broncos on Sunday and effectively clinched themselves out of winning the AFC West.
The Los Angeles Chargers were riding high heading into Sunday’s contest with the Denver Broncos. Winners of six in a row, the Chargers looked to have a realistic shot of extending that winning streak as far as eight games with the Broncos and Arizona Cardinals lined up at home.
The win streak would not even get to seven as the Los Angeles Charger succumbed to a last-second field goal that gave the Broncos a 23-22 win.
The game itself was sloppy. Los Angeles seemingly dominated and looked like the better team but made mistakes that cost them the game. Two turnovers from Philip Rivers, which happens, were huge momentum shifts in the game.
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The bend, don’t break, defense was getting broken in the red zone and that same mentality led to the Chargers letting the Broncos drive downfield and get a relatively routine field goal with three seconds left in the game.
Prior to that, there was terrible clock management by the Chargers. If the Chargers would have run the ball or taken a sack on the team’s last offensive play the Broncos likely would not have won. That would have taken another 40 seconds off the clock.
Instead, the team called a screen pass that Rivers threw into the grass. The call was smart, I totally get it, but the execution was terrible. Keenan Allen was draped in coverage and Rivers should have either taken the sack or looked to the left side of the field, where Mike Williams was open on a flat route.
Watch it again. Rivers could have hit Williams and even if the team didn’t get the first down, it would have been productive. Let’s say Williams stays on his feet for six seconds, that gives Donnie Jones a punt with a minute 14 on the clock.
The Broncos would have had just over a minute instead of nearly two. And while this could have affected the play calling and not much else might have changed, the Chargers did lose because of it.
This happens in the NFL, though. Even the best teams in the league lose games they should not and that is why even the best teams usually finish with three losses. In a perfect world, the Chargers would have won this game, but losing this game does not mean they are not playoff worthy.
Losing this game does have huge implications in the AFC West and practically clinched the Chargers out of winning the division. Of course, as we saw on Sunday, anything can happen in the NFL. However, by the looks of it, the Chargers now guaranteed that they will be a wild card team.
Well… if they make the playoffs; which they should, but you never know with the Los Angeles Chargers.
The reason for this is that the Chargers now have three losses opposed to the Chiefs’ one. Kansas City is playing Monday night against the Rams and you might even be reading this after the game. Even if the Chiefs lose, though, it is going to be hard for the Chargers to overcome the one-game lead.
Let’s say the Chargers win out, which is going to be pretty difficult considering the team still has road games in Denver, Chicago, Kansas City and Pittsburgh and has losable games against the Ravens and Bengals.
All the Chargers need to do is go .500 in the last six to make the playoffs. I am not concerned about that.
So, in our perfect world, the Chargers learn from this loss, catch fire, and cement themselves as one of the best NFL teams over the last six games. That gives LA a 13-3 record.
The Chiefs, meanwhile, face the Chargers, the Raiders twice, the Ravens and the Seahawks in Seattle. While the Ravens could surprise the Chiefs the Chiefs are the home team and the Seahawks game is tough but the Chiefs should win it.
Again, anything can happen, but after watching the Chiefs for 10 games I think it is safe to say that they should win all of those games with the only real losable game being against the Chargers.
So, even if the Chiefs lose against the Chargers, the team can still finish with a 13-3 record and has a significantly easier path to a 13-3 record than the Chargers. So, if the team’s tie, what happens?
The Chiefs get crowned AFC West Champions. The head-to-head matchup would be 1-1, so the tiebreaker would go down to division record. With a loss against the Broncos, assuming they beat them the next time around, the best the Chargers can do in the division is 4-2.
Meanwhile, if the Chiefs finish 13-3, that means the team would have a 5-1 division record.
The Los Angeles Chargers, even if they catch fire and win the last six which is an extremely difficult gauntlet, can finish the year 13-3 and still not get a first-round bye. If that happens, everyone will circle the loss to Denver.