The San Diego Chargers' 1-4 start has been (almost) mathematically impossible

Shutdown Corner

If Mike McCoy gets fired during this season, as many folks expect he will if the San Diego Chargers keep losing games, he gets a pass to tell his bad-beat story until the end of time.

This isn’t just a bad beat for the Chargers and McCoy, it’s the most mathematically impossible string of losses you can imagine. The Wall Street Journal said that if you take the win probabilities of all four Chargers’ losses, their odds of losing all four were one-in-30 million. How crazy is that? The odds of being struck by lightning twice in your lifetime is about one-in-nine million.

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So yeah, the Chargers’ 1-4 start is three times more unlikely than being struck by lightning twice. Tell Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers to stay inside if there’s a thunderstorm.

The Chargers just keep finding ways to lose games they have no business losing. According to win probabilities at pro-football-reference.com, the Chargers lost two games in which they had a 99.9 percent win probability. They reached that mark early in the fourth quarter in Week 1 at the Kansas City Chiefs, when they had the ball and a 27-10 lead. It happened again in Week 4 against the New Orleans Saints when Drew Brees threw a third-down incompletion in the fourth quarter with the Chargers leading 34-21. You shouldn’t blow one of those games in your lifetime, much less twice in four weeks. But San Diego did.

Their other two losses they reached an 84.7 percent win probability in Week 3 at the Indianapolis Colts and 77.9 percent at the Oakland Raiders last week, according to NFL.com. Add it all up and financial analyst Seth Bienstock told Michael Salfino of the Wall Street Journal that the odds of San Diego losing all four of those games, starting at those high points, is 0.0000034 percent.

“So if you ran a computer simulation of these games from these points 30 million times, the Chargers would lose all four just once,” Bienstock told the Wall Street Journal, via NFL.com.

If the Chargers just won the games in which they reached a 99.9 percent win probability they’d be 3-2 and feeling pretty good. At 1-4 they are a long shot to make the playoffs, even though we’re less than one-third of the way through the season.

But if anyone knows about doing something despite absolutely insane odds against it, it would be the Chargers.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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