Last season, when the Chargers left Allegiant Stadium in Week 18 with a loss, it prevented them from reaching the playoffs. This year, in Week 13, still with a handful of games to be played, the Raiders handed them a 27-20 loss that has created an exponentially more difficult path to get into the postseason.
In essence, the Chargers can't afford many other roadblocks the rest of the way. They'll need to win at least four of the next five games to give themselves a legitimate shot at playing beyond the regular season.
"There's urgency all season because we understand what's at stake," running back Austin Ekeler said following Sunday's loss. "We understand we have to win games. Where we're at in the season, games become more and more important. Letting one go today puts us in an even tougher spot."
The Chargers entered Sunday's game against the Raiders with a 39% chance to make the playoffs, according to FiveThirtyEight. But after dropping their most recent bout to a divisional foe, the Chargers odds to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2018, sit at 30%.
Now holding a record of 6-6, each Chargers victory this season has come against teams with losing records. Meanwhile, in their six losses, four of them have been to teams with winning records.
To preserve the season, they’ll need to accomplish something they haven’t done this year – beat a team that carries more wins than they do losses.
"I mean, we still have five games left and everything's out in front of us. I think it's easy when things are going right to kind of gloss over the issues," defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day said. "This game just didn't fall in our favor. Last week, it fell in our favor and it was a very tight game just like this one.
"I think it's easy to kind of be negative about it and point fingers and stuff like that, but we're not going to do that. We have everything in front of us and we're just gonna keep grinding it out."
Crunch time is here for a team that entered the season with expectations to make a run at a Lombardi Trophy. Injuries are always going to be a part of the NFL and the Chargers have experienced that at great lengths this season.
As players have been sidelined, the team has continued to echo the 'next man up' mentality. With that said, it's clear that without the personnel of pass rusher Joey Bosa and left tackle Rashawn Slater to a name a few, they haven’t been able to overcome obstacles on a regular basis.
Due up next on the Chargers schedule are the Dolphins, followed by the Titans – two teams that currently hold winning records and are in line for spots in the AFC playoff picture.
"We gotta keep playing. There's more games to be played," safety Derwin James said. "It's primetime next week. We gotta come out, the sense of urgency, we gotta go. Each game from here on out, we can't lose anymore."
The Chargers will square off against the Dolphins on Dec. 11 during the Sunday Night Football slate. Miami finds themselves coming off a loss to San Francisco, but they still remain one of the hotter teams in the NFL, having won five of the last six games.
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Read more from Charger Report:
- Takeaways From Chargers' 27-20 Week 13 Loss to Raiders
- Chargers' Banged Up Offensive Line Overwhelmed in 27-20 Loss to Raiders
- Live In-Game Updates: Chargers at Raiders Week 13
- Pregame Report: Chargers at Raiders Week 13
- Chargers at Raiders Week 13 Game Prediction
Nick Cothrel is the publisher of Charger Report. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel for more Chargers coverage.