Just tie, baby? Chargers, Raiders aim to win Sunday with playoffs at stake

LAS VEGAS — Chargers coach Brandon Staley caused an uproar when his aggressive fourth-down approach backfired against the Kansas City Chiefs in front of a national audience last month.

Staley’s decision to pass on field-goal attempts was strongly debated among TV talking heads for about a week and fiercely discussed on social media among analytics supporters and fans of conservative football.

Now imagine if Staley and the Chargers (9-7) are faced with poor starting field position with two minutes left in overtime against the Las Vegas Raiders (9-7) on Sunday night at Allegiant Stadium. A conservative approach could be an option in this scenario because a tie would be enough for the Chargers to advance to the playoffs.

Regardless of the decision, settling for a tie against a division rival or going for the win would likely infuriate many in assorted football communities, and it would be heavily debated throughout the postseason, especially if Staley opts to be aggressive and it leads to a costly turnover.

And if that wasn’t wild enough, there is a scenario in which the Chargers and Raiders could both earn postseason berths with a tie if the struggling Jacksonville Jaguars (15½-point underdogs) upset the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday morning.

“That’s a very loaded scenario there,” Staley said Friday. “There’s a lot there from a variable standpoint and it’s all good conjecture. … I guess we’ll just have to wait and see on that one.”


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