There is a chance that when the Chargers and Raiders begin their Week 18 “Sunday Night Football” showdown, a tie will lead both teams to the playoffs. If the Jaguars beat the Colts and the Steelers beat the Ravens, all the two AFC West teams would have to do is finish the game in a tie to secure the bottom two spots. Otherwise, the winner moves on and the loser goes home.
That scenario has led to speculation that the two sides could agree to kneel throughout the game, cut the 70 minutes of regulation time and overtime, and settle for both teams making the playoffs as the sixth and seventh-seeded teams. However, Los Angeles coach Brandon Staley said that is not going to happen.
On the Rich Eisen showStaley said it was all a “loaded scenario” and that everyone respects the game too much to allow that to happen.
“This game is too important to a lot of people, and we want to play our best and be proud of the result in one way or another,” Staley said. “We will do everything we can to win this game and play the way we are capable of playing. I hope all the fans and everyone who loves the NFL will be proud of Sunday’s game.”
Calling the Jaguars 2-14 to beat the Colts 9-7 is a tall order, and a situation both teams involved would likely hope to avoid. Jacksonville is one loss away from locking up the top draft pick for the second year in a row, while the Colts only need to win to guarantee a playoff spot. The last time the two met, however, it was a close game, with the Colts coming out with a 23-17 victory. The Jaguars have been challenging Indianapolis as of late as they are 2-2 against the Colts and 2-27 against everyone else in their last 33 games.
If Jacksonville takes the win, the Colts would fall to 9-8, while both the Raiders and Chargers currently stand at 9-7. If the AFC West rivals finish tied, they would be 9-7-1, giving both a better record than the Colts. Even if the Steelers beat the Ravens to go 9-7-1, the Chargers and Raiders hold the tiebreaker over Pittsburgh for the final two wild card spots.
The only wild card spot currently sealed is for the second-place finisher in the AFC East. Both the Bills and Patriots are 10-6, and regardless of their respective results on Sunday, both are heading to the playoffs.
A deliberate draw between the two sides, while sending both teams to the playoffs, would anger many in the soccer world. The Chargers and Raiders have been rivals since 1960 when the two helped open the AFL. The Raiders have an all-time lead of 66-56-2, but the Chargers won more recently, defeating Las Vegas on October 4, 2021.
Of course, even accepting such a scenario would be a gamble for either team. Any team ready to take the last kneeling position of the game could simply execute a false knee, fan the ball to a wide receiver and win the game, eliminating the AFC West foe from playoff contention.
If the Colts win on Sunday, the winner is guaranteed one playoff spot and the other will be sent home. With a win, the Raiders would earn No. 5 or 6 in the AFC playoffs, landing No. 1 if the Bills or Patriots lose on Sunday and No. 2 if both win. The Chargers could land as high as No. 6 if the Bills lose and the Patriots win the AFC East, but in any other scenario, they would finish as the No. 7 team.
Las Vegas can reach the playoffs with a loss if both the Colts and the Steelers lose.