With Week 14 in the books, let's take a look at the AFC Playoff picture, where the Colts stand, and who to root for in Week 15, in our weekly look at the Colts Path to the Playoffs:
|2nd||New England Patriots||10-3|
Week 14 played out about as well as the Colts could have hoped: the Ravens, Bengals, and Steelers lost, and the Colts won. At 9-4, the Colts magic number is 1. What that means, is if the Colts win any of their next 3 games, they will be in the 2012 post-season. But there are scenarios out there that allow the Colts to get in even if the unthinkable happened and they went 0-3 to close out the season. With those scenarios , as well as the unlikely, but still possible, scenario that sees the Colts winning the division in mind, we'll continue to look at this week's key match-ups, and tell you who you should be rooting for!
Key Games for Week 14 (Teams to root for in BOLD):
Colts at Texans - If the Colts beat the Texans, their slim division hopes remain alive, they clinch a playoff spot, AND, if you develop selective amnesia, you can trick yourself into believing their insane streak of consecutive 10-win seasons remains in tact!
Eagles vs Bengals - Very unlikely since, despite their win against Tampa Bay, the Eagles remain one of the worst teams in the NFL, but another loss by the Bengals would not only push the Colts playoff chances that much closer, but it would also serve to eliminate the Bengals, who may be a better team than the Ravens at this point, from playoff contention.
Broncos at Ravens - I think the Ravens are the weakest of the top-4 seeds, and the best possible match-up for Indianapolis should they fail to win the division. With that in mind, I want the Ravens to lose enough to secure that 4 seed, but not so much that they fall out of the division lead, as I think Pittsburgh and Cincinnati have better defenses at this point. A Denver win is a bonus, as it would push the Broncos closer to a BYE and further away from the Colts.
Jaguars vs Dolphins - I dislike the Jaguars. A win hurts their draft position. CHAD HENNE FOR ANOTHER YEAR!
Cowboys vs Steelers - Same as the Bengals: a Steelers loss just pushes the Colts that much closer to clinching (and makes it easier for them to keep the 5th seed and that match-up with the Ravens). It also serves to keep the Steelers from vaulting the Ravens for the AFC North crown AND, bonus, it's another win for the Cowboys which hurts their draft position and makes it more likely that they'll keep Jason Garrett!
Titans vs Jets - The Jets are the fly in the Colts clinching ointment. New York is the only "chasing team" which holds the head-to-head tie breaker over the Colts, and their ridiculously easy closing schedule (Titans, Chargers, Bills) means you have to be concerned that they win out. And a bonus: like the Jaguars, a Titans win here hurts their draft position, and I'm all about the Colts division rivals not improving.
Am I the only one that wants the Colts to not win the division?
Think about it?
If the Colts get the 5th seed, they would play the 4th seeded Ravens (hopefully). That is a winnable game. If they DO win that game they would most likely play the top seeded Texans, which would be preferable to having to play either the Patriots or Broncos in the divisional round.
To get to the Superbowl you have to play the Pats or Broncos at some point, but wouldn't you rather just play one of them instead of both?
The 5th seed, as crazy as it sounds, might just be the easiest path to the Superbowl (other than the #1 seed).
As the last few years of the NFL have proven, perceptions change from week to week, and if a team sneaks into the playoffs and gets hot, anything can happen.
But after that turkey the Texans laid last night, what are we to think of Houston?
They are either going to be one motivated team against the Colts or one totally wrecked. i fear they will come out and try to make a statement against the Colts. But if they can't, will they just go into freefall?
(Or hells bells, maybe the Pats are just that damn good. Makes me sick just thinking about it.)
@DougEngland I don't think the Texans are very good, but I think they are better than the Colts.
Tangent: I think people are looking at the teams the Colts have beat and somehow twisting that to mean the Colts themselves aren't good. The reality is, there are a lot of bad NFL teams this year. The Colts are legitimately the 9th-12th best team in the league. There are 20-something horrible teams out there.
Houston (I guess we get to test this on Sunday)
New York Giants
Other Teams That I would Pick
Pittsburgh (with Ben healthy)
Cincinnati (Geno Atkins would kill Luck)
Some That are on that level
So I would say that to me, there are 11 teams that are better than the Colts. Then a few that are around as good. Then a lot that are worse. They are far from the worst team to make the playoffs recently, as I would definitely put the '12 Colts ahead of the '10 Seahawks.
@GregC I truly hope you are right about the Colts. But you are definately right about there being 20-something horrible teams.
@DougEngland I'm afraid that the Texans will look to demolish the Colts this coming week. I don't feel good about it at all.
I actually had NE winning last night's game by two TDs. But I'm not surprised that it was even uglier. New England really is a good team. Denver is the only team in the AFC that can threaten them. And now, I can't really pick a stronger contender out of the NFC either. The formula is one elite quarterback, one good enough defense, and a well-prepared coaching staff that avoids doing anything stupid.
Yeah, it makes me sick as well. I'm rooting like hell for Peyton and the Broncos to come on strong at the end here and finish the job as the Colts are unlikely to do so.
@bradicus18 I hear ya.
@bradicus18 @DougEngland I think there are a couple of NFC teams that can beat them. I think SF matches up well (we'll see this Sunday Night), but I really think Green Bay or New York can beat the Pats in a potential Super Bowl.
Any team with multiple receiving targets can give the Patriots trouble, and the Packers and Giants have three or four, and great QBs to boot. They should be able to do work against that Patriots secondary. They also have decent defenses. The Packers defensive improvement this year is quite a bit, and the Giants defense just knows how to frustrate that New England offense.
But yeah, unless Ben gets completely healthy, i can only see one team beating New England in the AFC, and that is Denver.
But then again, the Jets lost a Week 13 game in Foxboro 45-3, and won a playoff game six weeks later.
@dmstorm22 Good answer.
@dmstorm22 @DougEngland I totally agree about New York. They get pressure from the front four, have a pretty good secondary, and have Eli. San Francisco, maybe. Very strong defense, good running game, dynamic QB. Kaepernick's level of experience is the only thing that makes me doubt them. Green Bay, I don't like in a matchup with New England. They can't get pressure on the QB, lately. Maybe Matthews' return will change that. I agree that they have weapons but they haven't looked like a truly great team since Week 6 (Texans).
I just think that the NFC doesn't look as dominant at this point as it did earlier in the season. But, as you imply at the end: any given Sunday.