Yes, the 2021 season will end with a playoff play-in game between the Chargers and Raiders. Unless it doesn’t.
There’s one specific scenario that gets both participants in the Week 18 Sunday night game into the postseason field. And it’s not all that complicated.
If the Steelers beat the Browns tonight and the Ravens in Baltimore on Sunday and if the Jaguars beat the Colts in Jacksonville, a Chargers-Raiders tie gets both AFC West rivals into the postseason field.
Don’t expect any type of deal between the two teams that would entail 70 minutes worth of victory formation aimed at engineering a tie, or something more subtle. The league office prohibits such efforts to undermine the integrity of the game, and there surely would be hell to pay if it looked like the teams were deemed to be colluding to ensure mutual playoff appearances. The Commissioner’s powers in that regard presumably would include imposing a double forfeit, which would keep both of them out of the postseason.
Still, whether they try to do it or not, a Week 18 tie could result in both teams getting a seat at the seven-team AFC postseason table.