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Chargers playoff chances: How Los Angeles can earn AFC wild card — or win AFC West — in NFL playoff picture

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The Chargers got a massive home win over the Dolphins on Sunday night. Los Angeles was an underdog for the marquee AFC matchup of Week 14 but pulled off the mild upset with Justin Herbert outdueling Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa.

With the 23-17 victory, the Chargers got above .500 at 7-6, one game behind the Dolphins, who fell to 8-5. Despite being ravaged by defensive injuries and recovering from offensive health issues, the Chargers are alive and well for an AFC wild-card spot and still have an outside shot at winning the AFC West.

MORE: Chargers improve playoff odds with win over Tua’s Dolphins

Here’s breaking down Los Angeles’ playoff chances with one month and four games left in the 2022 NFL regular season:

Where do the Chargers stand in the AFC playoff picture?

The Chargers with the win matched the record of the Jets (7-6), who lost to the Bills in Week 14. The Chargers are now the No. 7 seed ahead of the Jets by virtue of the conference-record tiebreaker.

The victory also puts the Chargers right behind the No. 6-seed Dolphins and two games behind the No. 5 Bengals for the top wild card.

The Patriots (6-6) go into their Monday night game at Arizona as the No. 9 team. A win over the Cardinals would put the Patriots at No. 7 and drop the Chargers to No. 8, just outside the AFC playoff picture again.

What playoff tiebreakers are in the Chargers’ favor?

The Chargers scored a big head-to-head coup by beating the Dolphins. Their 5-4 conference record is a half-game better than the Jets’ 5-5 mark and a half-game worse than the Patriots’ 5-3 mark. Their only non-division AFC loss, to the 5-8 Jaguars, won’t come into play.

MORE: Dolphins’ Tyreek Hill scores bizarre touchdown TD vs. Chargers on ‘Sunday Night Football’

Within the division, the Chargers already have been swept by the Chiefs, so they’d lose the tiebreaker there. They split with the 5-8 Raiders but have an inferior division record. They beat the Broncos in Week 6 and play them again in Denver in Week 18.

What games are left on the Chargers’ schedule?

The Chargers have a tough home test vs. the AFC South-leading Titans (7-6) in Week 15, but Tennessee is on a three-game losing streak. Should the Chargers get the victory, they can feel good about winning at the Colts in Week 16 and beating the crosstown Rams in Week 17. A matchup with the three-win, last-place Broncos is a favorable finale despite it being on the road.

How good are the Chargers’ wild-card chances now?

When factoring a schedule that should have them going at least 3-1 and finishing 10-7, plus what’s still facing the Dolphins, Jets and Patriots, the Chargers are now looking at better than a 60 percent chance of making the playoffs, at least as a No. 7 seed. That would set up another shot at AFC West-leading Kansas City in the wild-card round, but the Chargers do still have a narrow path to the division title.

MORE: Updated AFC, NFC playoff picture for Week 14 of 2022 season

How can the Chargers still win the AFC West?

The Chargers are down three games to the Chiefs with four games left to play. They cannot tie the Chiefs and steal the division because they lose the head-to-head tiebreaker.

That leaves the Chargers’ division-winning scenario clear: They must win out to finish 11-6 while the Chiefs lose out to finish 10-7. The Chiefs will likely dash that dream quickly by beating the one-win Texans in Houston in Week 15.


Credit: sportingnews.com

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