The Chargers’ win over the Chiefs on Thursday night leaves open the real possibility that the road to the Super Bowl, in both the AFC and the NFC, could go through Los Angeles.
The Chargers are now two wins and a Chiefs loss away from clinching home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, and the Rams are three wins and a Saints loss (or two wins and two Saints losses, among other possibilities) away from clinching home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. If they had home-field advantage, both teams would be one win, in the divisional round of the playoffs, away from hosting the conference championship games.
That would be quite an event for the NFL, which spent two decades out of Los Angeles and now wants to see the return succeed in a big way.
Of course, neither the Chargers nor the Rams are exactly in ideal situations to host major playoff games. The Chargers are playing in a tiny stadium in Carson, California, and often play in front of as many fans of the road team as the home team. The Rams are playing in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and although they’ve generated more local support than the Chargers, they’re not exactly the hottest ticket in Tinseltown either.
Starting with the 2020 season, the Rams and Chargers will share a new stadium, which promises to be an architectural marvel that the NFL would love to show off with big playoff games. If both teams were to host conference championship games while sharing a stadium, however, there would be logistical challenges. The NFL has confirmed in the past that if the Giants and Jets, or any other teams that share a home stadium, were to host the conference championship games in the same year, the league would move one conference championship game to Monday night.
It’s possible that the NFL would find that giving each conference championship game its own day would bring even more attention to the games and generate higher television ratings. If that happens, the NFL might make the Sunday-Monday conference championship game split a permanent change.
That’s a long way off. But both Los Angeles teams hosting the conference championship games could be just five weeks away.