Who to Root For: Week 14

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.

 

TOUGH CALLS

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.

Who to Root For: Week 14

There are just four games left in the 2011 season.

The Colts are comfortably in the driver’s seat for the first overall pick.

If they finish tied with the Vikings or Rams for the worst record, the tiebreaker will be worst strength of schedule. That means you root AGAINST teams the Colts have played, and you root FOR teams the Vikes and Rams have played.

Currently the standings look like this:

Colts: 106-88 (.546)

Rams: 112-82 (.577)

Vikings: 109-83 (.568)

Indy holds a three game lead over the Vikes, and the final weeks will be mostly divisional matchups, meaning little ground can be made up.

Here’s who to root for this weekend:

Vikings at Lions

Rams at Seahawks

Obviously, wins by these teams matter most.

Texans at Bengals

Bucaneers at Jaguars

Saints at Titans

Root against the South.

Patriots at Redskins

Chiefs at Jets

Root against teams the Colts have played.

Eagles at Dolphins

Bills at Chargers

Rams played the Eagles, Vikes played the Chargers

49ers at Cardinals

Vikes played the Cardinals

Bears at Broncos

Raiders at Packers

Vikes play the Bears and Packers twice.

Who to Root for Week 14

Before I jump into to who to root for, be sure to listen for me on Jersey Johnny today at 12:25.  The show will be on 1070 The Fan.  You can listen live here

As for the Colts, the formula is pretty is easy:  Win and get in.  The best Indy can realistically hope for is a three seed.  Here’s who to root for:

EASY CALLS:

Oakland at Jacksonville

Well duh.  If you couldn’t figure this out on your own, you probably aren’t smart enough to read.

Bengals at Steelers

It’s still mathematically possible for Indy to get a bye, but it would take lots of craziness.  But, who cares?  Root away.

Patriots at Bears

Still hoping the Pats wind up as a wild card and not as the AFC East Champion

Dolphins at Jets

Say it with me!  J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets!  While I would LOVE to play the Jets at home in the first round, I’d much rather play them on the road in the second round.

Ravens at Texans

One more Texans loss clears the path for Indy to make the playoffs at 9-7.  This would knock Houston down to a max record of 8-8, which means that if Indy finishes 2-1 (with a win over Jax) and the Jags finish 2-2, the Colts still win the division at 9-7.  If Houston were to finish at 9-7 in that scrum, they would steal the title.  Losses by the Jags and Texans give the Colts margin for error.

TOUGH CALLS:

Chiefs at Chargers

To get the three seed, we need the Chiefs to go 2-2 down the stretch.  I’d like them to finish 10-6.  This game is a must lose for them.  However, if you want the Chargers out of the playoffs, a loss to the Chiefs today basically eliminates them.  It doesn’t matter much.  The Chiefs are likely starting their backup QB and will probably lose by 30.

Who to Root for: Week 14

The race in the AFC has changed significantly in the past few weeks thanks to New England’s late season swoon.  The Pats are more or less locked into the fourth seed, barring a total collapse.  They have very little chance of moving up in the standings.  With that in mind let’s take a look at the important games of Week 14 in the NFL.

Easy Calls

New York (A) at Tampa Bay:  The Jets have an outside shot at passing New England.  I think that’s worth rooting for.  Call me crazy, but New England is one of the only teams in the AFC that worries me.  Why are people burying them so early?

Carolina at New England:  A battle of vague geographic regions.  I like the Panthers for the same reasons stated above.

Cincinnati at Minnesota:  I am rooting for the 9-3 Bengals.  Sounds crazy?  I’d rather Cincy get the two seed over the Chargers.  This would make the road much tougher for San Diego.  They would have to win an extra game to get to the Super Bowl (on the road at frigid Cininnati).

San Diego at Dallas:  Again, I’d like to see the Chargers have the three seed.

Tough Calls

Miami at Jacksonville:  This one will at least makes you think for a minute.  Do we really want Miami in the playoffs?  They played the Colts pretty tough.  Personally I’d like to play them.  I can’t imagine a scenario where they would beat us in Indianapolis.  Not without Ronnie Brown.  I’d like to see them steal the AFC East and force the Pats to go on the road.  Realistically though we are rooting for who we would rather see play at Cincinnati in the Wild Card round.

Detroit at Baltimore: If the Ravens swipe the sixth seed they would be a tough matchup for Cincinnati.  At the same time I’d be thrilled to see the Colts play them in the divisional round.  Talk about owning a team.

AFC Playoff Standings

1.  Indianapolis  (12-0)

2.  San Diego  (9-3)

3.  Cincinnati  (9-3)

4.  New England  (7-5)

5.  Denver  (8-4)

6.  Jacksonville  (7-5)

7.  Baltimore  (6-6)

8.  Miami  (6-6)

9.  New York  (6-6)

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