The San Diego Chargers did what no one this year was able to do. They beat the Denver Broncos at home. Thursday nights game looked as if it may be a stinker with the way the Broncos have scored this season but the Chargers were not ready to phone in their season. The left little drama for the fourth quarter as they flew home with a 7-7 record. The Chargers now sit a half game behind the Miami Dolphins and the Baltimore Ravens and the win could help the Dolphins get into the post-season.
The Dolphins are set to face the New England Patriots on Sunday and the Baltimore Ravens will play the Lions on Monday night. A three way tie of non-divisional teams takes head to head match-ups out of the tie breaking scenarios unless all teams have played each other and one team has won/lost to all of the others. The next tie-breaker would be conference record. Currently the Ravens have a 6-4 conference mark while the Dolphins have a 6-3 mark. The Dolphins have 3 conference games left on their schedule (all division opponents) while the Ravens have two. Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.
The win by San Diego could allow the Dolphins a slip up game. If the Ravens lose one of their remaining three and the Dolphins lose one of their remaining three a three way tie would then be in play. For the Dolphins to get that final spot, Baltimore’s loss would have to come by way of the Steelers or Bengals to give the Ravens five losses in the conference. Of course ideally the Dolphins will win out and the Ravens will drop one allowing Miami to enter the postseason by virtue of a better record.
Of course ideally, the Dolphins would be sitting up on top of the division having won the five close games they lost. Nothing is ever as simple as it sounds. While the game last night could eventually help Miami make the postseason, it could have made it that much harder to beat the Patriots.
New England was sitting in the number two spot entering the weekend down one game on Denver. Last nights loss opens the door for the Patriots to claim that top seed giving them a bye week and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Sunday’s game goes from being a simple division clincher for the Patriots to taking over that top spot. A small detail in the overall scope of the playoffs but an extra incentive to win nonetheless.
A loss by the Patriots on Sunday could also put into motion a first round rematch with the two clubs.
The Cincinnati Bengals are currently holding the third seed one game behind the Patriots. A loss by the Patriots and a win by the Bengals gives the edge to Cincy due to their head to head win over the Patriots in week 5. If that were to happen and hold for the final two weeks, Miami would play the 3rd seed to open the playoffs. New England. The Colts would then host the Chiefs as the Chiefs have locked up the fifth seed. In other words, it could get very interesting around here very soon depending on what happens Sunday and Monday night.
Perhaps the most exciting element of all this is the fact that we actually are talking playoffs and not simply what needs to happen to stay mathematically alive.