Welcome to Who to Root For for Week 10 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.
EASY CALLS (Home team in bold)
Jaguars over Titans
Ravens over the Bengals
Cardinals over the Texans
Chargers over the Broncos
The big games are the Jags, Ravens and Chargers games. These are simple calculations of rooting against teams with the better record and/or rooting against AFC South teams.
Dolphins over the Buccaneers
Raiders over the Giants
Because the Colts odds of winning the South are so high, we'll root for their strength of schedule to go up. It's hard to see a scenario where the Dolphins and Colts finish tied for a playoff spot at this point. Rooting for the Raiders boosts Indy's strength of victory.
The Colts now have a one game lead over the Rams and Dolphins in the race for the #1 overall pick.
The first tie-breaker is strength of schedule, and the Colts have seen their once comfortable lead shrink.
Total 16 Game Strength of Schedule:
Indy: 71-61 .538
Miami: 71-60 .542
Saint Louis: 73-56 .566
Here’s who to root for this weekend.
Redskins at Dolphins
Rams at Browns
Obviously, another win for the ‘Phins and Rams would go a long way to helping Indy.
Bills at Cowboys
Titans at Panthers
Texans at Bucs
Root against the AFC South, and for the AFC East and NFC West
Broncos at Chiefs
Colts played the Chiefs, but not the Broncos.
Ravens at Seahawks
Vikings at Packers
Patriots at Jets
Indy plays NE, but not NY.
Cardinals at Eagles
This depends on who you fear more. A win by Arizona hurts the Rams but helps the Dolphins AND removes another 2 win team. Pull for the Cards.
Giants at 49ers
A Giants win hurts Miami. A 49ers win hurts Saint Louis, but they play the Giants too. Root for the Giants as it doesn’t help Saint Louis much and does hurt Miami.
The Colts caught a break already this week with the Ravens’ loss on Thursday night. If Indy can beat the Bengals, they’ll be no worse than a game out of the top spot in the conference and still in first place in the South.
Here’s who to root for this weekend:
Dolphins Vs Titans
Browns Vs Jets
The Titans are tied with the Colts for the top slot in the South, we want them to go down. The Jets are a game ahead of Indy, so a loss by them would elevate the Colts into a tie for the second spot in the AFC.
Jaguars vs Texans
Both teams are 4-4, so you could argue that it doesn’t matter who wins. This is true, but I think the Texans are the better team by a lot. I’m rooting for the Jags.
Broncos Vs Chiefs
Maybe we should be rooting for the Chiefs so as to keep San Diego out of the playoffs, but I’d most rather see Oakland in that slot (hurts the Pats). I’ll field arguments that we should be pulling for KC, but I’ll feel better about it when they are behind the Colts in record and not tied with them (yes, I know Indy has the tiebreaker).
Patriots vs Steelers
My double reasoning is that Indy plays New England, and can make up the game they trail the Pats, and I think Pittsburgh is better. Frankly, I don’t think the Pats win this game or the next one against the Colts. I think they are headed for a 10-6 record at best, and if they fall hard to 9-7, I won’t be shocked.
There are two huge games in the NFL this week, and not much else matters. The Colts host one of the games. The other is for supremacy in the AFC North. Let’s take a look at Week Ten while I prepare myself emotionally for tonight.
Denver at Washington: The Broncos are looking to avoid a three game losing streak. Think Denver can’t lose to the hapless Redskins? I think they can.
Jacksonville at New York (A): This games seems like a joke, right? Not really. Let’s say the Jets win this afternoon, and the Colts win tonight. That sets up a huge game next week in New England. The Jets would be one game back with the tiebreaker in hand.
Philadelphia at San Diego: The Chargers won’t win the AFC West with a .500 record again. They need this game badly. Denver has a couple L’s left on it schedule, but they likely won’t be worse than an 10 win team. Losing this game would put San Diego in a must win position at Denver next week. I’ll be rooting against the Chargers — hard.
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh: Rooting for Cincy seems obvious to most of us. The only problem is their schedule gets pretty easy for the next three weeks (@Oak, CLE, DET) before getting tricky to close out (@Min, @SD, KC, @NYJ). Pittsburgh has a weak closing schedule with the exception of playing a questionable Baltimore team twice. The bottom line is I think the winner of this game will have a good chance of finishing 13-3. So it comes down to which stadium I’d rather visit in the playoffs — and that is not a tough call.
AFC Playoff Standings
New England (6-2)
San Diego (5-3)