Welcome to Who to Root For for Week 14 of the NFL season.
Each week I break down the schedule in grammatically incorrect fashion. That is, of course, unless you consider avoiding awkward constructions to be the heart of proper grammar in which case this column will be near and dear to your heart. Though it likely means you aren't a big football fan, in which case this will be irrelevant to your life.
What's At Stake: The Colts are currently clinging to the 3rd seed in the AFC. They are a virtual lock to get a home game (top four seeds), and could even score a bye (top two seeds). No matter what happens this weekend, the Colts will be no lower than the four seed in the AFC, and could close the week as high as two.
What It Will Take: Winning the South can be accomplished with a win or a Titans' loss at any point the rest of the season. Beating the Bengals will all but secure the three seed. It would be locked down with any combination of two more Indy wins or Bengals losses. A loss to Cincinnati, and Indy is a mortal lock for the four seed.
The Colts are one game behind New England for the two seed, but would own the tiebreaker. If the Colts win out and the Pats go 3-1, Indy gets a bye. The Colts are two games behind Denver with four to play for the first seed, and Denver plays Tennessee, Houston, and Oakland as well as the Chargers at home. It's highly unlikely the Broncos lose two of those. The one seed is all but officially off the table.
Ideal (but realistic) Seeding: Assuming Indy doesn't get the first seed, the best possible seeding would be:
Den, Ind, NE, CIN, KC, BAL.
Baltimore would beat the Pats in round 1, sending the winner of KC/CIN to Indy. Maybe the Ravens upset the Broncos and the Colts host the AFC Championship game.
EASY CALLS (home team in bold)
Browns over Patriots
Good luck with that. But root away. A Pats loss and an Indy win and the Colts are in line for a bye.
Vikings over the Ravens
Let's get Baltimore out of the playoffs, ok?
Steelers over the Dolphins
I'd much rather face Pittsburgh than Miami in the postseason.
Giants over the Chargers
Similar logic as above. Get rid of the Chargers, please.
You may have noticed all the strength of victory and strength of schedule tie-breakers are off the board this week. In looking at how the tiebreakers fall, it's highly unlikely any of them would come into play. The conference record and head-to-head tiebreakers are going to be enough to settle things in the AFC. So at least for this week, we'll keep it simple.
Tennessee over Denver
This game may not matter for the AFC South crown if the Colts win first, but pulling for the Titans could accomplish two things. First, if the Colts have already won, then they are still alive for the top seed. Second, I think we'd all love to play Tennessee again in the postseason.
If the Colts lose the Bengals game, then flip this. They'd already be out of line for the top seed, they'd be likely to not play the six seed anyway, so it would be time to root for a division title.
GAMES THAT DON'T EXIST FOR THE GOOD OF ALL MANKIND
Texans at Jaguars
Seriously, if you are football fan, save yourself the aggravation.
I don't know why Nate's so down on the Houston v Jacksonville game. Don't you all like watching train wrecks?
I'd call that the Pyromania Bowl, since it'd be a meeting of two dumpster fires.
Jokes aside, I feel bad for Jags and Texan fans right now. When their own fanbases are calling that a meteor game (i.e. "Which team are you rooting for?" "The meteor"), you KNOW it's a bad season.
Funny thing is, you'd think Jacksonville'd be used to it by now.
Figure the 4th seed, I don't believe the colts will win at Cinncinnati, but I hope I am wrong 100%. The strategy would be to go two minute huddle the whole game, thinking you are going to pass on every down, which opens up the field for Trent and Brown. This is what I would do, PEP, he is other ideas.
Nate, Could you enlighten us a bit on your rankings for potential playoff opponents? I see a little back and forth below (Tennehill/Ben) but that just opens up more questions. I know Balt/Pitt/SD have all been bad for us in the past in the playoffs, but that fuels my irrational fan's desire for revenge. Miami is revenge as well; isn't that the game we won but for an illegal shift by Reggie on a TD pass? Now that that illegal shifting loser is sidelined we're guaranteed to win!
Seriously, though, NYJ would be my top choice, then Tenn. Then... SD, Mia, Balt, Pitt. They're all beatable. Pitt's OL may have imploded, though that may be temporary. Flacco is Flacco--more likely to cough up a fur ball than throw a 97 yard bomb, last year being the exception. Pitt is sort of a one-man show, but that one man worried me a lot more than Brady for about a five year stretch.
Since NY and Tenn will not make it, I see the others as more or less equivalent--flawed, but with the potential to .ruin your day. Somewhat like the Colts.
How could you say that about tonights game? The Number 1 Draft Pick is on the line! Okay, I'll turn the sarcasm off now.
The Thursday night games are usually horrible, this has to be the all time low.
I'm rooting for this scenario: http://t.co/MvCMBepSjT
Pittsburgh over Miami... on paper maybe. But while the Steeler mystic may just be a myth at this point, I'd still much rather face Tannehill than Big Ben in a playoff game.
@Bobman1 I would put the order thusly: NYJ, TEN, Pitt, Balt, MIA, SD. I'm always going to put the teams the Colts lost two last. But yes, they are all similar.
@Bobman1 Can't really group Baltimore in with the "we've had trouble with" group, can we? Up until Luck's rookie playoff outing AT Baltimore last season, haven't we pretty much pwned the Ravens?
@hankster Next wednesday
@smonroe There's a game tonight? Rats! I just made an appointment to get a pedicure. And my hair done. And have my oil changed. Dang; guess I'll miss it.
@thejoshbaker Shake, how the hell did you work THAT out? Hankster, I'd say Santa, a giant bribe, some powerful hallucinogens, and a comet hitting the planet. Could happen....
@thejoshbaker I think Santa might have to be involved in some why for that to happen.
@DougEngland I'm not sure I agree. Miami already won in Indy, so it makes it difficult to want to see them again.
@Bobman1 I am not Shake. He's Joe Baker. But I did spend about 15 minutes tweaking things. It was totally worth it.
True, not only did Miami win in Indy, they made it look frightenly easy.
Still, in the postseason, give me the Ryan "playing his first playoff game" Tannehill led Dolphins, over the storied Steelers. (Even if their story this season reads like a paparazzi's account of a night on the town with Lindsay Lohan.)
Well, there goes my credibility. i don't know what I was remembering, but I had it in my mind that after the struggle the season opener against the Raiders, that the Dolphins came in and chalked us.
Oh well, you guys are right. So does that inadvertantly help my original thought that I would rather the Colts face the Dolphins in the playoffs than the Steelers?
@DougEngland "Frightenly easy"? It was a back and forth game the entire way. Colts were in scoring position before getting stuffed in the 4th Q. I think I'd rather have a payback game than the Steelers, but I'll be fine with either.