|Chargers QB Philip Rivers - Courtesy of San Diego Chargers|
It all starts, and perhaps ends, this weekend. San Diego has to win in Miami on Sunday.
Here are the teams competing for that second Wild Card as of today:
New York Jets 5–4
Miami Dolphins 4-5
Cleveland Browns 4-5
Baltimore Ravens 4-5
San Diego Chargers 4-5
If the Chargers beat the Dolphins tomorrow, San Diego will of course pass Miami on this list.
The Cleveland Browns will probably (if not certainly) lose to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. And the Baltimore Ravens could certainly lose to the Chicago Bears on Sunday at Chicago.
If all that happens, San Diego would be behind only the New York Jets, who will probably win at the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. But that isn't a given, either. Buffalo is a decent team at home.
If these games go as I expect and hope, the Chargers will be tied with or closely trailing only the Jets for the second AFC Wild Card spot by the end of the weekend. And then San Diego has to play the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead. And at Denver.
It's a tough road, and San Diego's defense is giving up far too many yards and points. But with Chargers' quarterback Philip Rivers back in Pro Bowl form, this team is capable. Inconsistent, but capable.
If San Diego loses on Sunday, though, any hope of a playoff bid this season goes from slim to virtually none.