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Thursday Night Football And NFL Playoff Scenarios: Chargers, Chiefs And AFC West

The San Diego Chargers will host the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday Night Football this evening in a game that will surely draw the attention of a few Kansas City Chiefs players. The Chiefs hold a one-game advantage over the Chargers in the AFC West so there's no doubt this game has NFL playoff picture implications.

The Chargers are 7-6 with games remaining against the San Francisco 49ers and road games against the Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos. The Chiefs travel to St. Louis to play the Rams this weekend and have home games against the Tennessee Titans and Oakland Raiders down the stretch.

Tonight, though, is Thursday Night Football on NFL Network.

What happens if the Chargers beat the 49ers?

Then the pressure is on the Chiefs to beat the Rams on Sunday. In many instances, the Chargers will hold the tiebreaker over the Chiefs. That can change -- if San Diego loses to Denver and KC beats Oakland in Week 17 -- but let's just assume the Chiefs need a one-game lead on the Chargers to get in.

A Chargers victory combined with a Chiefs loss would be a very, very bad things for Kansas City. The Chargers appear to be rolling right now so they may just win out putting the Chiefs in a bind if they don't do the same.

A Chargers victory combined with a Chiefs victory would just put the Chiefs on step closer to winning the AFC West. As long as the Chiefs win when the Chargers win, they'll be fine.

What happens if the Chargers lose to the 49ers?

Now things would get a little easier for KC. That would mean the best the Chargers could finish is 9-7. The Chiefs are 8-5 right now meaning they would have to win just two of their final three games to win the division (the best Oakland can finish is also 9-7).

If the Chargers lose, and the Chiefs beat the Rams, that will setup a clinching scenario at Arrowhead Stadium next weekend. The Chiefs would be two games ahead of the Chargers and two (or three) games ahead of the Raiders. That means one more KC victory would put them up a minimum of two games with just one to play meaning they clinch the division title.

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The bottomline is that a Chargers victory keeps things, for now, at status quo. A Chargers loss puts major pressure on the Chiefs to beat the Rams this weekend.