With Week 15 in the books, let's take a look at the AFC Playoff picture, where the Colts stand, and who to root for in Week 16, in our weekly look at the Colts Path to the Playoffs:
|1st||z - Houston Texans||12-2|
|2nd||z - Denver Broncos||11-3|
|3rd||z - New England Patriots||10-4|
|4th||x - Baltimore Ravens||9-5|
With week 15 losses from the Jets and Steelers, the Colts are the most "clinched nonclinched playoff team" in the history of history, with a ~99.97% to make the playoffs. In fact, there's only one scenario, involving every NFL game over the final 2 weeks, in which the Colts can miss out on the playoffs. You can view that scenario here, and it comes courtesy of Matt Grecco of Stampede Blue.
After the jump we'll look at this week's key match-ups and who Colts fans should be rooting for!
Key Games for Week 16 (Teams to root for in BOLD):
Indianapolis at Kansas City - 1 Colts win over the final 2 weeks makes it official, sidestepping weird tie breaker scenarios. A win is also important, because the Colts want to secure the #5 seed and a trip to Baltimore (the #6 seed would likely earn them a trip to New England, a much harder 1st-round match-up)
Tennessee at Green Bay and Jacksonville vs New England - A win by either the Titans or the Jaguars actually secures a playoff spot for the Colts, so there's that. On top of the clinching scenario, I've also been pretty steadfast in rooting for our divisional rivals to hurt their draft stock via wins. If anyone watched even a minute of either team this past week, you know they are severely lacking high-end talent, and in desperate need of the talent infusion a high pick can bring.
Houston vs Minnesota - They've clinched the division, now let's get them to clinch the #1 seed. While the Colts are likely 1-and-done in the playoffs, I believe their best chance to make some noise in the post-season is to face Baltimore in round 1 and Houston in round 2. Sure, Houston soundly beat them, but I felt like that was a game the Colts could have taken if they cleaned up just a few of their mistakes. I certainly like their chances against Houston more than their chances against either Denver or New England.
Pittsburgh vs Cincinnati - If Cincinnati wins, the Colts clinch the playoffs. That's obviously the first goal, but as we've discussed, a lot of things have to break in an exact manner for the Colts to miss the playoffs at this point, so I'm rooting for this game based on seeding. If Cincinnati wins, they are still alive to catch the Colts for the #5 seed, a Pittsburgh win puts both teams at 8-7 and makes it harder (but not impossible) for the Colts to fall to #6.
The way the Colts can lose the playoffs doesn't depend on EVERY game in the NFL breaking wrong over the next two weeks. It only seems that way. Here's how:
If the Colts go 0-2, Pittsburgh goes 2-0, and Cincy goes 1-1, all three teams wind up tied at 9-7. The Bengals are eliminated first based on head-to-head. After that, the decisive tiebreaker for the Colts and Pitsburgh is strength of victory. The Colts have a substantial lead in this department, but not an insurmountable one.
Strength of victory is basically the total records of the teams you've beaten. So: if every team the Colts beat starts losing, and every team the Steelers beat starts winning, our advantage in this department erodes. If the reverse happens, we should clinch that tiebreaker. Games between teams (over in the NFC, mostly) that neither Pittsburgh nor Indy played don't matter.
So we should also be rooting for San Diego over the Jets this week (the one other game that can affect either our or Pittsburgh's SOV). If Green Bay and Minnesota win, that'd also work in our favor for SOV purposes, of course.
I believe the yahoo thing is slightly wrong. I had way too much free time yesterday so played around on ESPN's playoff machine and verified the results.
Scenario #1: Colts win either (or both obviously) of their last two games they clinch the 5 seed and play the AFC North champ in round 1.
All remaining scenarios involve Colts losing out
Scenario #2: If CIN beats PIT & BAL, CIN or BAL gets 5 seed pending the BAL/NYG game.
Scenario #3: If CIN beats PIT and loses to BAL, Colts need 2 results from list below or TEN over JAC in week 17 to clinch 5th seed.
Scenario #4: If CIN loses to PIT & beats BAL, PIT loses to CLE, Colts need 4 results from list below or 3 results and TEN over JAC to clinch 5th seed, otherwise would be 6 seed.
Scenario #5: If CIN loses to PIT & BAL, PIT beats CLE, Colts are #6 seed.
Scenario #6: If CIN loses to PIT& beats BAL, PIT beats CLE, PIT/BAL are 4/5 depending on BAL/NYG and the Colts need 4 results from list below or 3 results and TEN over JAC to clinch 6 seed.
Essentially the only scenario where the Colts wouldn't make the playoffs involves Colts losing 2 plus
plus JAC over TEN and 6 results from table or 7 results from table.
I can't believe how close we are to getting the scenario I wanted about a month ago, with the Colts going to Baltimore, the Patriots losing their bye and maybe hosting Pittsburgh, and Denver at the #2.
All is well.
Would love to see the Colts wrap things up in KC next week to take any added pressure away from a potential Pagano return in two weeks.
After going over the Week 16 part of the scenario I did get a little nervous. The least likely result on there was KC over Indy. All of the other games could easily occur as listed. Week 17 is more of the same "except" for KC over Denver. So even if everything falls into place, Peyton could keep us in the playoffs with a win next week.
I always like seeing division opponents shoot themselves in the foot with regards to the draft and other personnel decisions. However, they have proven time and time again that they don't need poor draft position to make poor draft decisions. :)
Wow. I did my weekly vote on the ESPN Power Rankings just now and I quickly came to the conclusion that there are only seven good teams in the NFL right now. The rest are all mediocre to horrible.
The teams I think are good (FWIW):
AFC: Denver, New England, Houston
NFC: San Francisco, Atlanta, Green Bay, Seattle
@bradicus18 Seattle is the only team I wouldn't put in there. Not because they aren't good, but because the other teams in there are all elite favorites any of which I wouldn't be surprised to see in the Super Bowl. I would be quite surprised to see the Seahawks there (or even playing in the NFC Championship).
@7IHd I think you're right about Seattle being the weakest. It was more a statement about how sorry the rest of the league is as opposed to how strong those teams are. The Giants are just on the outside, looking in. But the rest of the league is seriously flawed. But yeah, Seattle is probably a Wildcard team that plays on the road and gets bounced in the first round. This weekend will tell us for sure.