Who to Root For: Week 15

Welcome to Who to Root For for Week 15 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 all but locked into the fourth seed in the AFC. They have clinched the AFC South, but are a game and a tie break behind the Bengals and two games behind the Patriots.

What It Will Take: Getting up to the third seed will take two losses by the Pats or Bengals and three Colts wins. Or two wins by Indy and three losses to close the year from either Cincy or New England. We can hope, but realistically any hope of a higher seed died in Cincinnati last weekend.

Ideal (but realistic) Seeding:

Denver, Cincinnati, New England, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Baltimore

Baltimore would beat the Pats in round 1, sending the winner of KC/Indy to Cincinnati. Maybe the Ravens upset the Broncos and the Colts host the AFC Championship game.

EASY CALLS (Home team in bold)

Dolphins over the Patriots

Still root against New England, but be careful. A KC swoon and Indy could end up playing a tougher team in the Wild Card Round.

Chiefs over the Raiders

Kansas City is the best possible matchup for Indy. They are vastly overrated, and the Colts could upset them. Root for them to win.

Jets over the Panthers

If there is any possible way to get New York into the playoffs, I'm rooting for it.

Steelers over the Bengals

Indy can still jump Cincy, but it would take a loss by the Bengals this weekend.

Ravens over the Lions

I'm ok with the Ravens as the six seed. That could be the key to keeping the Colts out of Denver.

 

TOUGH CALLS

Broncos over the Chargers

I can't think of any good reason to ever root for Phil Rivers over Peyton Manning, and I'm not going to do it. Ok?

I'm just not.

Who to Root For: Week 15

With three weeks left, the Colts hold a lead in the strength of schedule tiebreaker in the event they win two games and wind up tied with the Rams and Vikings for the worst record in football.

As of now, the strength of schedules look like this (calculated for the entire season’s schedule, worst record wins):

Colts: 115-96 (.545)

Vikings: 119-90 (.569)

Rams: 121-87 (.581)

Should the Colts lose on Sunday, they could actually mathematically clinch the top pick if enough of the games below swing their way. There are very few non-division games left in the final two weeks, so there will be little movement. By my count, after this week the most games the Vikings can on Indianapolis the rest of the season is 8. The most the Rams can gain is 6. This is in part because any Indianapolis win actually helps their S.o.S number by hanging a loss on a divisional opponent.

Here’s who to root for.

Bengals at Rams

Saints at Vikings

Obviously, Indy is rooting for the Rams and Vikes to win. Wins by both and a loss by Indy seals the first pick. Wins by the Rams and Vikes in the final weeks all but locks up the spot.

Panthers at Texans

Indy plays Houston twice, so go Panthers.

Packers at Chiefs

Cowboys at Bucaneers

Browns at Cardinals

Patriots at Broncos

Ravens at Chargers

Steelers at 49ers

Root against the teams the Colts played.

Giants at Redskins

Vikes and Rams both played the Redskins

Seahawks at Bears

Rams played Seattle; Vikes played Chicago. Vikes are closer.

Lions at Raiders

Vikes played both teams, but play Detroit twice

Jets at Eagles

Rams played the Eagles

 

Who to Root for Week 15

Let’s begin with the end in mind, shall we?

The playoffs in the AFC will likely shake out like this:

NE, Pitt, SD/KC, Ind/Jax, Bal, NYJ

The likely scenario we should root for is:  NE, Balt, Ind, KC, Pitt, NYJ.  This would send the Jets to Indy, then Indy to Baltimore and the winner of KC/Pittsburgh to New England.  That’s what we are hoping for.

How do we get there?  Because of the complicated permutations for the playoffs, there are no more easy calls. It’s all confusing, and it all changes depending on what happens if the Colts win or lose today.  Things will get clearer after today.  We’ll do a complete playoff positioning piece tonight if the Colts win today.

Kansas City at Saint Louis

We need the Chiefs to lose a game in order to leap frog them, but we ALSO need San Diego to lose.  For now, the safest bet is to keep pulling for the Chiefs to keep San Diego on the outside looking in.

Buffalo at Miami

The Colts slim wildcard hopes require a Miami loss.  So let’s hope it comes today.

Houston at Titans

There still a crazy chance for a 3 way tie for the division at 8-8. I’m not sure it matters which of these teams wins this game, but let’s pull for the team we still play.

Saints at Ravens

The Colts’ slim wildcard hopes require the Ravens to lose out.  IF the Colts win today, you can flip this and start rooting for the Ravens.  We would LOVE to see the Ravens jump up and claim the two spot.  However, a Colts’ loss means the Ravens MUST lose this game or Indy is eliminated.

Jets at Steelers

There’s still a longshot chance of the Colts grabbing the two seed (see the link to Shake’s article above).  More importantly, if Pittsburgh drops below Baltimore and becomes a wildcard, it could work out beautifully (as long as we don’t get them in the first round).  For now, pull for the Jets.

Denver at Oakland

Oakland doesn’t affect us directly until next week, but each game Oakland wins hurts the Patriots.

Green Bay at New England

Rodgers isn’t playing, so the Pats will win by 60.  There’s no point in watching this game.

Who to Root For-Week 15

Let’s take a quick look at the Colts rooting interests this weekend…

First, our ideal order of finish:

1. Colts (locked)

2.  San Diego-Let’s be realistic.  It would be great if the Chargers finish 3rd, but I doubt it’s going to happen.  Ultimately, I’d rather put NE and SD against each other in round two ahead of any other scenario.

3.  New England-This forces the Pats and Chargers to play each other before Indy.  I’m still convinced NE is the third best team in the conference.

4.Cincinnati-They have to play somewhere.  Indy would almost assuredly play the winner of the Cincy Denver game.

5. Denver-I’m confident the Colts will handle Marshall better with a full compliment of corners

6.  New York Jets-The worst of the wild card teams, they lost to the Jags at home.  Indy is 4-0 against Baltimore, Miami and Jacksonville, so none of those teams are scarey.  None will win at New England anyway.

Pats @ Bills

I want the Pats to play San Diego, so I’m pulling for them to win.  If NE loses, then I’ll root for the Bengals today.  Who am I kidding?  I want Brady to toss 6 picks.

Falcons @ Jets

Meh.

Miami @ Titans

Who do you want to see less in January?

Raiders @ Broncos

I wouldn’t mind seeing Denver totally fall apart.

Texans @ Rams

Probably doesn’t matter, but I’d rather not see Houston again after two close games.

Bears @ Ravens

No fear of Baltimore, but still.

Bengals @ Chargers

If the Pats lose, then this switches to being a pro-Bengals pick.  I don’t think they will, so I’ll go with SD for now.

Green Bay @ Pittsburgh

Let’s just cut the head off of that monster once and for all.  Forgive me for never wanting to see Pittsburgh in the playoffs again.

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