After the NFL released its Week 18 schedule on Sunday, astute NFL folks noticed a strange quirk that could have wild implications for the playoffs.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are hosting the Indianapolis Colts and have a very unlikely chance of winning the game. However, if they somehow do, while their fans look on dressed as clowns, they could create a situation where the Las Vegas Raiders (9-7) and Los Angeles Chargers (9-7), who play one another that evening, would be better off simply kneeling out the game for a tie so that both of them make the playoffs over the Colts.
Otherwise, the winner will make the playoffs but the loser could find themselves on the outs. The Chargers have more of an incentive to do this as the Raiders hold the tiebreaker over the Colts while the Chargers would lose out due to a worse conference record.
Of course, very few people expect two NFL teams to decide to collude in order to ensure a playoff spot. But just in case you needed reassurance, Los Angeles Chargers coach Brandon Staley dismissed the notion when he was asked about it on The Rich Eisen Show on Tuesday.
“That’s a pretty loaded scenario. That is an all-time coffee shop scenario,” Staley said. “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.”
Meanwhile, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport said on Good Morning Football that a source associated with one of the teams told him that there’s no way to know for sure that the other team would go along with such a complicated and dubious arrangement, “How do we know they’re going to do it?” said the source.