Chargers vs. Raiders Flexed to SNF; Updated Week 18 Schedule Released

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 3, 2022

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) signals during the first half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
AP Photo/Ashley Landis

The Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders will be playing for a playoff spot under the lights.

The NFL released some schedule changes for the upcoming Week 18 slate, and the AFC West game was flexed into Sunday Night Football along with the announcement of Saturday's doubleheader:

Albert Breer @AlbertBreer

Week 18 schedule ...<br><br>• Chiefs vs. Broncos, Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET.<br>• Cowboys vs. Eagles, Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET.<br>• Chargers vs. Raiders, Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET.

Here's a full look at the Week 18 schedule:

NFL345 @NFL345

.<a href="https://twitter.com/NFL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFL</a> Announces Week 18 Schedule: <a href="https://t.co/MVStRYi4P4">https://t.co/MVStRYi4P4</a> <a href="https://t.co/3mBRrPxyxe">pic.twitter.com/3mBRrPxyxe</a>

Los Angeles and Las Vegas are each 9-7, and the winner will clinch a wild-card spot in the AFC.

Five of the seven AFC playoff spots are wrapped up thanks to impressive seasons from the Tennessee Titans, Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots. 

Yet the Indianapolis Colts, Chargers, Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers are still battling for the final two spots. If Pittsburgh loses to the Cleveland Browns on Monday, it will be eliminated at 7-8-1.

It would still take a lot for the Steelers to make it at this point. Even if they win out, they will be 9-7-1 and need the Colts to lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars to reach the postseason. Considering the Colts already beat Jacksonville once and the 2-14 Jaguars lost by 40 points to the Patriots on Sunday, that's probably not going to happen.

Working under the assumption the Colts will defeat the Jaguars, that would leave the final wild-card spot for the winner of the game between the Chargers and Raiders.

Los Angeles handled its AFC West rival by 14 points during its Week 4 matchup with Justin Herbert throwing for three touchdowns and Austin Ekeler adding another score on the ground.

However, that was a home game for the Chargers. The Raiders' crowd will surely be fired up from the opening kickoff as it looks to make life difficult for Herbert and Co. with so much at stake. The Raiders have also been to the playoffs just once since the 2002 campaign, so this is quite the opportunity for Derek Carr's squad.

Keeping pace with an offense featuring Herbert, Ekeler, Keenan Allen and others will be no easy task for Las Vegas, but a playoff spot will be waiting if it does.