After 16 games and 17 weeks of chaos, the Las Vegas Raiders have made it to the last game of the regular season with their playoff hopes alive and well. The Los Angeles Chargers are on their way to Sin City for the biggest game of the season. The winner of Sunday night’s game will clinch one of the AFC wild card spots and will have a road playoff game next weekend. As the regular season winds down, here are a couple of headlines to watch on Sunday.
Ending Above .500
The Raiders have clinched their first winning season of the Las Vegas era and just their second winning season since 2002. The Raiders currently sit at 9-7 and interim head coach Rich Bisaccia has done the impossible, leading this team to a winning season.
After all the madness that accompanied this regular season, the Raiders have defied all the odds. A three-game losing streak seemed like the easiest challenge they had to overcome to get to this point, and now they’re one game away from the playoffs.
Week 18 has many playoff-clinching scenarios for the Raiders. meaning yet another stress-filled day for Raider Nation. The most direct path to the playoffs for the Silver and Black is to win. That’s it. Win and they’re in. The Raiders hold the tiebreaker over a series of fellow AFC teams, putting them in a great position in the last week of the regular season. They truly control their own destiny.
While a win is the easiest way in, there are two more possibilities. Here’s what they look like.
The Raiders will clinch a playoff spot with a win OR a Pittsburgh Steelers loss and an Indianapolis Colts loss OR a Colts loss and a Raiders vs. Chargers tie.
A tie, you ask? A tie. If the Colts lose and the Raiders and Chargers tie, both Las Vegas and Los Angeles will make the playoffs. Some have suggested that Sunday Night Football could just be two teams taking a knee for 60 minutes.
“Someone said we could just take knees and tie if that’s the scenario. I was like, ‘Well, that sounds good to you, but I don’t want to tie these guys either.’ … I still want to go out there and still want to beat the Chargers,” Raiders QB Derek Carr told the media on Wednesday.
Bad Blood in the Division
QB Derek Carr has been through an unbelievable amount of adversity in his eight-year career. In 2016, the only time the Raiders have made the playoffs since he was drafted, he was unable to play in the team’s only playoff game. Carr was injured two weeks before the end of the regular season, putting him out for the remainder of the season with a broken leg and ending his MVP campaign. Now, Carr has a chance to show the league he can be successful outside of the regular season, and Chargers’s LB Joey Bosa may be adding fuel to the fire.
After the Chargers and Raiders played in Week 4, Bosa and Carr exchanged friendly fire. “We knew once we hit him a few times, he really gets shook… once you get pressure on him, he kind of shuts down,” Bosa said about Carr in Week 5.
“He’s probably mad because I was talking a lot of crap to him during the game. It was an emotional day for them,” Carr responded.
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