The Chargers managed to defeat the Ravens 23-17 in the AFC Wildcard game on Sunday. That win pushed the Chargers to Divisional Round where they will take on the New England Patriots. Unfortunately for them, that game will be played in cold, snowy Foxborough, Massachusetts instead of sunny Los Angeles.
Los Angeles finished the season with a 12-4 record and tied for first place with the division rival Chiefs. Unfortunately for them, they lost out on the division due to a tiebreaker with Kansas City and, as such, failed to earn home field advantage for the playoffs. Not winning the division not only cost the Chargers a first-round bye, but it pushed them all the way down to the 5-seed. The Chargers are almost guaranteed to not play a single game at home unless the Colts can run through the playoffs themselves and meet Los Angeles in the AFC Championship game. Only then will the Chargers be able to play a home game.
In most cases, this is just the Chargers getting unlucky. They had a great year at the same time as a division rival. It happens. However, Chargers tackle Russell Okung isn’t so sure about that. The Chargers had a chance to take the one seed in the regular season, but a loss to the Ravens of all teams put them on equal footing with the Chiefs.
Kansas City took care of its business and the Chargers were stuck with the 5-seed. According to Okung, this is what the NFL wanted, via ESPN.
“Roger Goodell doesn’t want us to come home,” Okung said. “That’s all I can say.”
The Chargers reached this point because of a loss, but they feel it also was due to some questionable refereeing in their loss to the Ravens. Is this part of some grand conspiracy by the NFL to keep the Chargers down? Probably not. Is the NFL probably happy that the Chargers will play at most a single home game in their own stadium? That’s certainly possible.
The Chargers don’t play their games inside a traditional NFL stadium, but instead a soccer stadium in Carson. This temporary home only seats 33,000 fans and is frequently taken over by opposing fanbases, so it’s not exactly the ideal venue for NFL postseason action.
For Okung, that lack of a real stadium has caused the NFL to put him and the Chargers on the toughest road possible to the Super Bowl. Between having to travel to Foxborough and hoping the Colts upset the Chiefs in Arrowhead, this all feels very unfair to the Chargers. Unfortunately for them, that’s just the hand they’ve been dealt.