The San Diego Chargers (7-7) were all but buried a few weeks back, but a three-game winning streak has revived hopes that the Chargers could sneak into the playoffs.
While they still need plenty of help, there are a couple of scenarios that can get the Chargers back into the postseason.
Let's run them down, starting with how the Chargers can trump the Denver Broncos (8-6).
To win the AFC West, the following must happen:
- The Chargers win their final two games on the road against the Detroit Lions (9-5) and the Oakland Raiders (7-7). The Broncos lose both of their final two games, at Buffalo Bills (5-9) and against the Kansas City Chiefs (6-8).
To get in as a wild card, the following must happen:
- The Chargers win their final two games. The New York Jets (8-6) lose their final two games against New York Giants (7-7) and Miami Dolphins (5-9). The Cincinnati Bengals (8-6) lose one of their final two against either the Arizona Cardinals (7-7) or the Baltimore Ravens (10-4). OR
- The Chargers win their final two games. The Jets lose to the Dolphins in Week 17. The Bengals beat the Cardinals but lose to the Ravens. OR
- The Chargers lose to Detroit, and beat Oakland in Week 17. The Jets and the Bengals lose their final two games.
Head spinning yet?
The good thing for Chargers fans is that we've seen much crazier things happen in the final two weeks than the three scenarios listed here.
Will the San Diego Chargers make the playoffs in 2011?
The most plausible scenarios in which the Chargers get into the playoffs are likely the first two.
Traveling to Buffalo won't be easy for the Broncos, even if the Bills have struggled in recent weeks. And the Chiefs are fresh off knocking off the previously undefeated Green Bay Packers, so they might be a tough out in Week 17.
The second scenario is also conceivable, as the Jets hardly looked the part of a playoff team in Philadelphia last week and the Bengals will have their hands full with the Ravens in Week 17.
You might even say that it wouldn't be shocking if both the Jets and Bengals lost out, which would put the Chargers in a fantastic position to steal a spot.
The cards are still stacked against the Chargers to a certain degree, but hope is all you can ask for at this point in the season. San Diego has it.