(WCMH) — Week 18, the final week of the longest season in NFL history is underway and on NBC’s Sunday Night Football the Los Angeles Chargers will visit the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium for a playoff showdown.
Both AFC West teams have identical records with nine wins and seven losses, which means this could be an all-or-nothing game for the postseason.
In an unlikely scenario, the Chargers and Raiders could both advance to the playoffs. For this to happen, the Sunday night game would have to end in a tie and the Jacksonville Jaguars would have to beat the Indianapolis Colts earlier that day.
When asked about the possibility of the teams kneeling every play on “The Rich Eisen Show,” Chargers head coach Brandon Staley said that would not happen.
“I think we all respect the game and the NFL shield and the integrity of this game far too much to be complicit in something like that,” said Staley. “We’re going to do everything we can to go win this game, and play the way we’re capable of playing.”
The Chargers’ offensive game could be what puts them over the top on Sunday Night. QB Justin Herbert, in his second year in the league, is on the 2021 list of NFL’s top 100 players and has been ranked 7th quarterback overall by ESPN’s Mike Tannenbaum. Additionally, star RB Austin Ekeler has made 18 touchdowns this season, which puts him second in the league behind the Colts’ Jonathan Taylor who has 19 touchdowns.
The 2021 season has been tumultuous off the field for the Raiders. Former Head Coach Jon Gruden resigned on Oct. 11, after “The Wall Street Journal” reported on the racist, homophobic and misogynistic comments he wrote in work-related emails during his career. Gruden left the team with six years still left on his 10-year, $100 million contract with the Raiders. After Gruden’s departure, special teams coach Rich Bisaccia became the interim head coach.
Then on Nov. 2, Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III, was involved in a car crash that killed a woman and her dog. The 22-year-old Ruggs was let go from the team hours after the deadly collision and faces up to 46 years in prison.
The third scandal for the team involved former Buckeye Damon Arnette, who was dropped from the team after brandishing a weapon and making death threats in a video posted on social media.
Despite all the personal drama, the Raiders have ended up with a chance to make it to the playoffs in the last game of the season. The team is on a three-game winning streak and TE Darren Waller, who was injured on Thanksgiving, is “anticipated” to make a return to the field according to coach Bisaccia.
Watch ‘Sunday Night Football’ starting at 7 p.m. on NBC4 or stream it live at NBCSports.com/Live.