It’s happening. If it happens.
With the Colts losing to the Jaguars and the Steelers beating the Ravens, tonight’s win-and-in contest between the Chargers and Raiders has a very important caveat. If they tie, both are in.
There has been plenty of speculation this week regarding the possibility of an agreement between division rivals to play for a tie. That definitely won’t happen; anything along those lines would be frowned upon by the league office as an affront to the integrity of the game.
But the question isn’t whether the Chargers and Raiders will enter the game with a wink-nod plan to play 70 minutes without a winner. The question is whether, if the game naturally is deadlocked late in regulation, will the two teams organically lean into the result, with conservative play calling and efforts to chew up the clock and get out of Dodge with both teams earning seats at the AFC playoff table?
While getting a win versus getting a tie will impact seeding (for example, a tie will stick the Raiders with the No. 7 seed and a return to Kansas City), there’s a point at which one or both teams may call off the dogs in the hopes of not risking their ticket to the postseason party.