The final weekend of the NFL regular season is already creating chaos.
Early Sunday afternoon, the Jaguars, in the line of the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, stunned rival AFC South Colts 26-11 in astonishing defeat.
The Colts entered Sunday with an 88 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to FiveThirtyEight, needing only one victory to guarantee himself a spot on the AFC field. Now, they are in the uncomfortable position of having to wait for their fate.
But Jacksonville’s victory doesn’t just shake Indianapolis. Now, the “Sunday Night Football” showdown between the Raiders and the Chargers could see both teams, originally facing a win-win-all showdown to enter the playoffs, reach the postseason, pushing the Colts out. and maintaining second place in the AFC North. team offstage in what would be a unique event.
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What the Jaguars’ victory means for the image of the NFL playoffs
The Colts needed a win to go 10-7 and stay ahead of the Chargers and Raiders, who enter the Sunday Night Football matchup at 9-7. If the Colts and Raiders won, the Raiders would have the highest seed by virtue of the tiebreaker advantage, while Indianapolis would be one place above Los Angeles.
However, the victory now means the Chargers and Raiders could make the playoffs, joining the AFC East runners-up, as wild-card teams if they both tie. This unique circumstance has heightened the theory among fans that both teams could just kneel throughout the game, run out of time, and accept the tie for both teams to reach the playoffs.
Why would this work? At 9-7-1, the Chargers and Raiders would each have a better win-loss record over the Colts, who are now at 9-8. The Steelers lost to Los Angeles and Las Vegas, so even with a win over the Ravens, they wouldn’t have the tiebreaker over either team. The only other team left in the picture, the Ravens, would have moved to just 9-8 with a win over the Steelers, leveling them with Indianapolis and keeping them out.
But don’t think NBC and NFL executives are sweating too much just yet. The Raiders and Chargers are rivals, after all, and earlier in the week, Los Angeles head coach Brandon Staley splashed cold water on the idea of a game full of kneeling, saying the game is too important for that. they can launch it. For both Staley and Raiders coach Rich Bisaccia, there is also the risk that the team with the ball at the end of regulation time will simply throw a deep pass or kick a field goal to win the game anyway and eliminate. to his rival in the AFC West of the postseason.
NFL PLAYOFF SCENARIOS: Chargers | Raiders | Colts
Los Angeles Chargers
In general, this doesn’t affect the Chargers as much as it does most other teams.
Los Angeles entered Sunday with a win-and-go mentality, and that remains the same. If the Chargers beat the Raiders, they will make the playoffs. Not only would they make the playoffs, but now they are shaping up to be the sixth seed on the field with the win.
There’s even a chance they could jump as high as No. 5 with a win. The Patriots play the Dolphins and the Bills play the Jets during the 4:25 pm ET window. If the Bills lose to the Jets and the Patriots defeat the Dolphins, Los Angeles would jump to No. 5 and the Bills would drop to No. 6.
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Las Vegas Raiders
Because Pittsburgh beat the Ravens, the Raiders are in a win or draw scenario, just like the Chargers. If the Raiders beat the Chargers, they can go to No. 5 if the Patriots lose to the Dolphins or if New England wins the AFC East. Otherwise, a win would move them to No. 6. If the two teams tie, the Raiders would be the No. 7 seed.
This loss is a crushing blow for the Colts, who seemed determined to make the playoffs as the only victory necessary against one of the worst teams in the NFL.
But after losing to Jacksonville, their only hope is that the Steelers-Ravens game ends in a draw. That didn’t happen, eliminating Indianapolis from the postseason.
The Steelers always seem to find a way. And after their win against the Ravens and the Colts’ loss to the Jaguars, Pittsburgh will make the playoffs. UNLESS the Chargers and Raiders finish tied. If that happens, both AFC West teams will make the playoffs, and Pittsburgh will be left on the outside looking in.
Given how rare draws are and reports that neither team will play for a draw, Pittsburgh has to get comfortable with its situation.
In case anyone was wondering, based on conversations I had with the Chargers and Raiders, if (if the Jags win), LA and Vegas will not intentionally tie for both of them to enter the playoffs.
Let’s see how this plays out …
– Dianna Russini (@diannaESPN) January 9, 2022
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Impact on the 2022 NFL Draft
This game would have had major implications in the draft, as Jacksonville was ranked number one. With a win and a loss for the Lions to the Packers, Detroit would move up (or down, depending on your perspective) to number one.
However, the Packers rested most of their starters against the Lions, and Detroit was able to get its third win of the season, moving to 3-13-1 on the year to stay behind Jacksonville.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.