They face the Chiefs this weekend, trailing Kansas City by two games with just four to play.
A loss Sunday and the season is kaput. The string of four straight AFC West titles would end, as well as speculation that this team was constructed to go deep into the playoffs.
It's hard to make a postseason mark if you don't get an invitation.
But what's clear now is the Chargers need help. No more does winning out equal a chance to go chase a Super Bowl.
It's not so much the Chargers' loss to the Raiders that is haunting them. It's their predictable slow start, which this year accounted for a 2-5 record prior to Halloween.
"Is it the best-case scenario? No, but we put ourselves in this spot with the game (on Sunday) and the games we played in September and October that took away our wiggle room," quarterback Philip Rivers said Monday. "We've needed a lot more help in previous years, and it's worked out."
The Chargers not only have to beat the Chiefs on Sunday, but they must hope that Kansas City stumbles again down the stretch.
"We'll worry about what we can control, and if we look up on Jan. 2 and it's not enough, then it's not enough," said Rivers, who has never missed the playoffs as a starter. "But we have to make sure that on that day, we've done all we can to put ourselves in position. It starts by winning this week against Kansas City."
While the Chargers didn't play with any urgency last Sunday in seeing their four-game win streak vanish, Rivers said this Sunday is no different than what the Chargers have been facing -- lose and it's nearly curtains. Although this week, it really is.
"It's been playoff-type football since we fell to 2-5," Rivers said. "We've handled it well up until (the Raiders game), and we're still in the same position. We know what this game means and what we have to do to stay alive. Winning this game doesn't get us anything, but it keeps us above water."
But Kansas City could dunk the Chargers before mid-December if it completes a two-game sweep. The Chiefs aren't showing many signs of cracking, although they did win a close one last Sunday against the Broncos.
"It doesn't matter what they've done," cornerback Antoine Cason said of the Chiefs. "We need to take care of ourselves first."