The Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers could both get into the playoffs thanks to a wonky scenario in Week 18 of the 2021 NFL season.
The playoffs start early for both the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers as, thanks to both teams having the same record and several other tiebreakers in place, they face a do-or-die scenario in Week 18. Five of the seven AFC playoff spots have been clinched and as of today the Chargers would make it and the Raiders are on the outside looking in.
If the Raiders win on Sunday, they leapfrog both Indianapolis and LA and become the sixth seed.
It is truly a win-or-go-home game as it currently stands but there is a crazy scenario where that may not be the case. If the unlikely, but not impossible, scenario occurs where the Colts lose to the Jaguars in Jacksonville, both the Chargers and Raiders could clinch playoff spots with a tie.
Could the Raiders and Chargers both make the playoffs?
Due to the game being flexed to Sunday Night Football, both teams would know the outcome of the AFC South game so they could kick off with this knowledge in the back of their minds.
In many other sports, including most notably in soccer, on the final day of the season, all games kick off at the same time to help avoid this type of scenario. In soccer, a tie is a very normal outcome and because of the points system in that sport, a tie could serve the same purpose as a win in deciding who finishes where in the final standings.
The NFL doesn’t bother doing any of that because generally, teams need to win or lose to decide their final standings. Thais do come into play however and for example, if the Colts win on Sunday, the Chargers only need a tie to make it to the playoffs. The Raiders would need a win if the Colts prevail but if Indianapolis loses we come back to this wild scenario.
So could this actually happen?
It seems even crazy to think that either team would agree to this and we can only imagine the insane fallout that would come if this did happen. The outcry on social media of collusion and a lack of competitive fire would be deafening and both teams would never hear the end of it. This would be as close as we have gotten in the NFL to match-fixing, although the Eagles famously tanked a Week 17 game last year to keep the Giants out of the playoffs and improve their own draft position.
The NFL itself would likely come down hard on both teams if they were to simply kneel on the ball after every snap through four quarters and overtime. We can’t imagine that Rodger Goodell and NFL brass would be pleased that their showcase game on Sunday night would turn into something of a farce.
As a Raiders fan, agreeing to a tie would be a contradiction of the franchise’s famous motto and would feel just plain wrong. At the same time, the Raiders have not made the playoffs since 2016 and would be making just their second playoff appearance since 2002 so the ends may justify that means. So if the Colts lose on Sunday, Al Davis may wind up rolling in his grave at the thought, but maybe the motto could be “Just Tie, Baby!”.