A complicit tie to claim a playoff berth?
Los Angeles Chargers coach Brandon Staley dismisses the thought out of hand.
Presented with a unique and unlikely scenario that a Week 18 tie could assure an AFC playoff berth for both the Los Angeles Chargers and their Sunday Night Football foe, the Las Vegas Raiders, Staley wasn't entertaining the notion of a full-game kneel-down.
"That's a pretty loaded scenario. That is an all-time coffee shop scenario," Staley told The Rich Eisen Show on Tuesday. "I feel like I'm with my buddies at the University of Dayton. 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. This game matters too much to too many people, and we want to play our best and be proud of the result one way or another. We're going to do everything we can to go win this game, and play the way we're capable of playing. I hope all the fans and everybody who loves the NFL will be proud of the game on Sunday."
Games involving other AFC playoff contenders -- the Colts and Steelers -- would have to break a certain way to even set up the possibility. The Steelers would have to beat the Ravens, both of whom are clinging to wild-card hopes, and the Jaguars would have to upset the Colts. The Jaguars have imploded over the second half of the season, have shown no improvement under interim coach Darrell Bevell, and are coming off a 50-10 embarrassment against the Patriots. The slim chance that a still-contending Colts team would drop a game to Jacksonville to close the season renders the Chargers-Raiders tie scenario unlikely at best.
It's folly -- the league surely wouldn't even stand for it. But it's a rare scenario that, as Staley noted, makes for fun talk around the water cooler.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport said on Good Morning Football that a source with one of the teams, when presented with the notion of a complicit tie, told him, "How do we know they're going to do it?"
Five of seven AFC playoff spots already are claimed, and the Chargers, Raiders, Colts, Steelers and Ravens all remain in mathematical contention.
But for Staley, when the Chargers and Raiders kick off Sunday night, it will be to win -- even if a tie would be good enough.
"What makes it so special is the competition," Staley added, "and the level of integrity and respect that it stands for."