AFC West Watch: Chargers clinging to thin playoff hopes

Jamie Squire

By the time the Chargers and Chiefs play Sunday afternoon, San Diego might be out of the playoff picture.

Standings

1. Denver Broncos (12-3, 4-1 division record) - clinched division

2. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4, 2-3) - clinched 5th seed

3. San Diego Chargers (7-7, 2-2)

4. Oakland Raiders (4-10, 1-3)

Playoff Bound

Both the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs have clinched a playoff berth. The Broncos have locked down a first round bye in the playoffs and will be either the #1 or #2 seed in the AFC based on the results of Sunday's games. A win or a Patriots loss to the Bills in Week 17 will guarantee the Broncos the AFC's top seed.

The Chiefs are locked in as the 5th seed of the playoffs and cannot move up and down, making their Week 17 game rather meaningless. The question remains whether Andy Reid will rest his starters, however.

The Chargers are not so lucky, but they're not out of the playoff picture yet. San Diego can get into the tournament as the sixth seed with a win in Week 17 combined with losses by both the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens. Since they play the Chiefs, it's safe to say they're hoping Andy Reid decides to rest his starters in their regular season finale.

1. Denver Broncos

The Broncos' 37-13 victory over the Texans in Week 16 won the Broncos the division. They are now one win away from the top seed.

Last game: at Oakland (4-11). You know the Raiders would love nothing more than to play spoiler to their archrival. I still don't think it's out of the realm of possibility for the Broncos to sit Peyton Manning for this game, though. Likely? No. Possible? Yes.

2. Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City fell back down to Earth in Week 16, losing to the Colts and letting slip any hope of a division title. They'll finish their season against the Chargers.

Last game: at San Diego (8-7) in a meaningless game for Kansas City, but a hugely meaningful game for everyone else in the Wild Card chase.

3. San Diego Chargers

The Chargers need to win out and need help for a playoff berth. The Ravens and Dolphins are fighting for the 6th seed in the AFC, and each have an 8-6 record, better than the Chargers.

Last game: vs. Chiefs (11-4). There is no reason for the Chargers to lose this game at home. They beat the Chiefs once, and they have a lot more to play for. If Baltimore and Miami loses, San Diego will have something to play for; they'll know the results of those early games before kickoff in the afternoon Sunday.

4. Oakland Raiders

The Raiders' Mediocrity Tour 2013 concludes at home against the Broncos.

Last game: vs. Broncos (12-3). Play spoiler if you can.

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