The LA Chargers are entering one of the most important regular-season games in recent memory. After beating the Denver Broncos in Week 17 and getting some help along the way, the Chargers now control their destiny against the Las Vegas Raiders. It is a win and get in situation for the bitter rivals, making it the most intriguing game of the Week 18 slate.
A win in this game would be extra sweet as the Chargers would be ending the season of their biggest rivals. With this essentially being a playoff game, it is a good chance for the Chargers to gain some momentum heading into the playoffs to hopefully make a deep run.
However, there is a chance that the Chargers might not even play for a win. The AFC wild-card picture is crazy as is and an even more absurd playoff scenario has emerged. If the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Indianapolis Colts (its a longshot but who knows with Carson Wentz) then the Chargers and Raiders could tie and both make the playoffs.
The anarchist inside of every NFL fan is probably rooting for the Jaguars to shock the world with a win over the Colts so the Raiders and Chargers could get in a kneel-off in the final game of the 2021 regular season. It would be hilarious, and in theory, both teams would want to do this as there is no risk involved.
However, Brandon Staley would NEVER allow the LA Chargers to purposefully tie the Las Vegas Raiders.
It does not matter if there are two minutes left in overtime and the game is still tied, the LA Chargers are going to play for a win in this game. Sure, they might be more cautious if the game were to hit that point, but the Bolts are not going to even want to get there.
Brandon Staley has worked really hard this season to not just improve as a head coach over Anthony Lynn, but to establish a brand-new culture in the building. This is a Chargers team that has had a lot of bad luck and bad breaks over the last decade and Staley's no. 1 goal this season has been to change that. And for the most part, he has. There have been some clunkers, sure, but look at the position that the team is in.
Purposefully tying the Raiders to get to the playoffs would undo everything Staley has done for the culture. Sure, it would keep the Chargers alive, but at what cost? Are the Bolts really going to allow their biggest rival to get into the playoffs as well when they can instead end their season?
As Brandon Staley literally said himself, the Chargers are not here to participate. They are here to compete, they are here to win.
Staley has been the king of taking risks and going for it on fourth down. He has shown nothing but faith in his team and their ability to execute, even when things are not going their way. There is a zero percent chance he would go out there in Las Vegas and essentially tell his team he does not trust them to get the job done and instead has worked out a deal to kneel the ball so both teams get into the playoffs.
Quite frankly, I would much rather see the LA Chargers lose to the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 18 than see the team make the playoffs by kneeling the ball down every single play. Hopefully other Charger fans feel the same way.