In early October, only an idiot would have said the Chargers looked like a playoff team. In late November, the idiots are looking pretty smart.
The Chargers’ Thanksgiving win over the Cowboys has them at 5-6, only half a game out in the wild card race and a game and a half out in the AFC West. That’s a shocking turnaround for a team that started the season 0-4.
Here’s how the AFC playoff race looks, through Thanksgiving:
1. Steelers (8-2): Pittsburgh has the tiebreaker over New England based on a better conference record.
2. Patriots (8-2): New England’s December 17 game at Pittsburgh is shaping up to be the game of the year.
3. Jaguars (7-3): Is America ready for the Jaguars in the playoffs? Because they’re a near-lock to make it.
4. Chiefs (6-4): Kansas City has stumbled mightily after a hot start, but the Chiefs are still the overwhelming favorites in the AFC West.
5. Titans (6-4): The Week 17 date with the Jaguars could decide the AFC South. Could a Jaguars-Titans game really get flexed into prime time?
6. Ravens (5-5): Joe Flacco isn’t playing well, but Baltimore’s defense is, and that may be enough.
OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
7. Bills (5-5): Sean McDermott made a huge mistake by benching Tyrod Taylor but the Bills aren’t out of it just yet.
8. Chargers (5-6): Los Angeles only has one game remaining against a team with a winning record.
9. Dolphins (4-6): It’s hard to believe an offense this bad is only a game out of the wild card, but here we are.
10. Jets (4-6): It’s hard to believe a team everyone accused of tanking is only a game out of the wild card, but here we are.
11. Bengals (4-6): Cincinnati’s offense is starting to pick up.
12. Texans (4-6): The Deshaun Watson injury probably cost the Texans a playoff spot.
13. Raiders (4-6): Oakland is a major disappointment.
14. Colts (3-7): If only Andrew Luck had been healthy.
15. Broncos (3-7): Denver may be the biggest disappointment in the league.
16. Browns (0-10): They actually haven’t been mathematically eliminated yet, but it’s probably safe to say the Browns won’t be in the playoffs this year.