Who to Root For: Week 16

Welcome to Who to Root For for Week 16 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: Indy is still in the fourth seed in the AFC, but could move up as high as the number one seed if everything broke their way. The two seed is more attainable.


What it Will Take: To get the top seed, Indy needs two Denver losses and two Colts wins plus all the other scenarios below to work out. The problem is Denver plays Houston this week, so…not going to happen.

To get the two seed: The Colts need to win twice and have the Pats and the Bengals EACH to lose once. If the Colts win once, they need the Pats and the Bengals to lose twice.

To get the three seed: The Colts need the above scenario to take place, but only need the Pats OR the Bengals to lose once.

Other relevant teams of note: The Dolphins and Ravens can mess things up if they win their divisions. If those two teams go 2-0 and Indy goes 1-1 and the Pats lose twice, Indy stays at four and the Dolphins actually vault to the two seed.


Ideal (but realistic) Seeding:

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

The Colts would get the Ravens at home in the second week of the playoffs, and the Pats would travel to Denver.

New England could drop to the fourth seed or even out of the playoffs, but they'd have to lose to Buffalo in Week 17.

Miami would vault the Bengals if the Dolphins win twice and the Ravens win out.


EASY CALLS (Home team in bold)

Vikings over the Bengals

Any Bengals loss with two Colts wins moves Indy up a seed.

Texans over the Broncos

Two Denver losses is good for the Colts if the Colts win twice. Otherwise, it's doom as Denver comes to Indy in round 1.

Raiders over the Chargers

San Diego can still make the playoffs. Let's avoid that, shall we?

Ravens over the Patriots

An Indy win and a Pats loss moves Indy up one seed.



Dolphins over the Bills

Miami already won in Indianapolis, but in theory, they could still dump New England out of the playoffs. So for now, pull for them.

Who to Root for: Week 16

The Steelers win on Thursday formally ended any hope of the Colts nabbing the two seed, so let’s review what’s still possible.

The Colts get the 3 seed with:

2 wins AND 1 KC loss AND one San Diego loss.

Indy wins the AFC South with:

2 wins OR

1 win over Tennessee and 1 Jags loss OR

2 Jags losses and the Titans lose to KC today.

Here’s who to root for today:

Washington at Jacksonville

MJD isn’t playing, so this game is very much in play.  This is the one game that really matters for the Colts.  A Jags loss would render the Indy/Oakland game meaningless in terms of the Colts making the playoffs. 

Chargers at Bengals

We want San Diego out of the playoffs, but we also want them to drop a game so we can take the three seed.

Titans at Chiefs

While technically we get some help from a Chiefs loss, because I think it’s unlikely the Chargers lose, we’d rather the Chiefs keep winning.  In addition, the Raiders would be eliminated with a Chiefs win.  The Titans long-shot hopes would be over as well, opening the door for the Colts to make the playoffs by losing out.  So for now, let’s pull for KC, though if the Chargers go down, it’s acceptable to switch this to pro-Titans.

Browns at Ravens

We want the Ravens to take the two seed.  Think about it.  Would you rather play at Baltimore or at Pittsburgh in the second round?  Yeah.  Me too.

Jets at Bears

Two Jets wins and two Pats losses means NY wins the AFC East.  Let’s root for that long-shot.  If the Jets lose, it’s no big deal.

Patriots at Bills

For the record, my ideal (realistic) playoff scenarios are:

NE, Balt, Indy, KC, Pitt, NYJ

(2 Balt W, 2 Indy W, 1 KC W, 1 Pitt L, 2 NYJ L)


NE, Balt, KC, Ind, NYJ, Pitt

(2 Balt W, 1 NYJ W, 1 Pitt L)

Who to Root for: Week 16

The top two seeds are locked in the AFC, but it’s a mess after that:

1.  Colts (clinched)

2.  San Diego (clinched)

3.  New England

4.  Cincinnati

5/6.  Baltimore and Denver.

Our preferred order of finish is identical to the current standings.  Denver is the least scary of the remaining playoff contenders (other than the Jets, but we obviously don’t want them to win).  Baltimore is the next least frightening in my opinion.  We need New England to win out to clinch the 3 seed, so that would eliminate Jacksonville and Houston.  That leaves Miami, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Denver left.  Of those four, I think Baltimore and Denver are the best matchups for the Colts.  Honestly, I’d just as soon play the Bengals as either of them.

Chiefs at Bengals

I don’t care who takes the AFC North, but a Cincy loss would all but assure the Pats of a three seed and a trip to San Diego the second weekend.

Houston at Miami

Both teams played Indy close, but with the Pats finishing at Houston, I’d rather see the Texans win this weekend and eliminate the Dolphins

Jaguars at Patriots

Noxious yes, but root hard for the Pats.  We don’t want the New England/San Diego two-fer

Ravens at Steelers

Who do you want to face in January:  Flacco or Roethlisberger.  Let’s go Ravens!

Denver at Philadelphia

I’m not sure rooting for them will help any.  A loss for the Broncos gives hope to the winner of Houston Miami and to the Steelers if they should beat Baltimore.