Chargers Explain Approach vs. Broncos Knowing They Could Secure AFC’s No. 5 Seed Before Kickoff

How will the Chargers approach the Week 18 game against the Broncos?

COSTA MESA – The NFL’s final week of games is upon us, and while some have playoff implications, there’s others around the league that hold no significance.

For the Chargers, it’ll be a wait-and-see. If the Ravens lose to the Bengals on Sunday ahead of the Chargers’ 1:25 p.m. PT kickoff, Los Angeles will lock in the No. 5 seed in the AFC.

But in a scenario in which the Ravens top the Bengals, the Chargers will need to defeat the Broncos in order to secure the AFC’s top wild card spot.

“I don’t think we’re gonna be too worried about anything other than our game,” Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert said Friday of the playoff seeding scenarios. “We’re doing our best to just focus on us – the Chargers. We’re doing everything we can to play our best on Sunday. A lot can happen outside of it, but as long as we’re focused on what we are doing here, I think that is what is most important.”

Chargers coach Brandon Staley has kept the team preparing just as he would any other game. They’re entering Week 18 with a mindset of needing to win, and until they learn otherwise, they’re proceeding without looking over their shoulder.

“We know what’s going on before we play, but any type of competitor knows that the mindset’s gotta be on the opponent,” Staley said. “We’re going to play the Denver Broncos and our mind can’t be in two places. That’s not how competition works. So our whole focus is going to be on Denver, playing our best football.”

In regards to resting starters, the Chargers have approached this week with that not being the case. However, if things fall in their favor and the Ravens lose the regular season finale to the Bengals, the Chargers will transition to a more conservative approach in the game, attempting to keep their key players healthy.

“My approach to this game, is to go play a high-level game. … As the facts on the ground change within the game, then yeah, things could change, but we’re not going in with the mindset like, ‘Oh, well he’s not going to play,'” Staley said. “We’re going [to Denver] to win this game and play our best. Then, as the game unfolds, we’ll see what happens.”

The Chargers, just as they’ve done for several weeks late in the season, conducted a walk-through on Wednesday. Then on Thursday, the team was interrupted with a heavy dose of rain that caused poor field conditions, leading to a second consecutive day without holding a practice.

That meant Friday was the team’s first and only practice of the week. Staley mentioned after Friday’s session that the quality in which the players conducted themselves with, caught his attention.

“The practice we just had is a quality practice,” Staley said. “Guys are feeling confident with one another, starting to develop that chemistry since we’ve played together a lot now. We also have full respect for our opponent. They have our full attention. That’s why today’s practice, I felt like was one of the better one’s that we’ve had.”

If the Chargers do in fact lock in the No. 5 seed, they’ll go on the road to face the No. 4 seed, which will be decided by a win-and-get-in game Saturday at 5:15 p.m. PT between the Titans and Jaguars.

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Read more from Charger Report:

Chargers at Broncos Week 18 Injury Report: FridayChargers Edge Rusher Joey Bosa Eager to Look Ahead After Battling Food Poisoning in Last Week’s Return to PlayChargers Could Have AFC’s No. 5 Seed Wrapped Up Before Sunday’s Kickoff at BroncosBrandon Staley, Chargers Players Pay Tribute to Bills’ Damar HamlinChargers Not Looking to Rest Starters vs. Broncos, Focused on Locking in No. 5 Seed

Nick Cothrel is the publisher of Charger Report. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel for more Chargers coverage.

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