Rooting challenge of the week: Dolohins @ Ravens, a game that definitely impacts the AFC North division and could impact the 6th seed by keeping the win threshold at seven.
In week 12, the two most likely AFC North playoff contenders helped themselves but received little assistance elsewhere. The AFC East’s three playoff hopefuls squeaked out wins that could have gone either way, while the West had its best week possible winning three of four. Luckily the South went 0-4 and dropped below the AFC North in both playoff seeding and the wildcard race.
Within the division, the Ravens and Steelers won, moving the North within one game of a wildcard and improving the division’s playoff seeding to #3 from #4. In the bottom half of the division, the Bengals are all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, and the Browns are one game closer to grabbing the top draft position.
Whether your team is in the playoffs, in desperate need of help, or on the outside looking in, it still feels good to
root for others to fail.
In week 13’s Rooting Guide, there are many games significant to the North (11), but the rooting choice is obvious in all but two (maybe three) with so many inter-conference and lopsided contests. With that in mind, the following assumptions will be made this week:
1. Division pride will often take precedence over division rivalry hatred. For example, fans should feel sorry for and root for the Bengals. If the Bengals are perceived as a playoff threat, their team is doomed anyway.
2. “Consensus” picks below include everyone but fans of those teams, who will obviously be rooting for their favorite team.
3. Some fans will let sheer hatred overrule the logical choice.
Games with playoff implications (Records are listed for non-eliminated AFC teams only. The NFC records are irrelevant):
Chiefs (8-3, #5) @ Falcons
Rams @ Patriots (9-2, #1)
Broncos (7-4, #7) @ Jags
Texans (6-5, #4) @ Packers
Eagles @ Bengals (3-7-1, #13)
Dolphins (7-4, #6) @ Ravens (6-5, #3)
Bills (6-5, #9) @ Raiders (8-2, #1)
Giants @ Steelers (6-5, #8)
Bucs @ Chargers (5-6, #12)
Indy (5-6, #11) @ Jets
Browns are idle and the 49ers take on the Bears.
Falcons– Out of conference and obvious. The Chiefs are the current favorites to win the West, and a loss would keep the 5-seed win total at eight.
Rams – A Pats loss would give a small glimmer of hope to an AFC North playoff bye… very small but miracles do happen.
Jags – A Broncos loss would not only keep them out of the six seed, but would also be a crushing defeat before heading into their brutal stretch run.
Packers – A Texans loss would drop the South top spot to .500, a big sigh of relief to the North who had been the butt of NFL futility jokes just two weeks ago.
Bengals – Division pride, people! Although Burfict, Pacman, Ginger, and others will give fans plenty of reasons to resort to rooting assumption #3 above. At least give it a thought. If the Bengals have a strong finish, they will still miss the playoffs, and will likely consider another 1-year extension for Marvin Lewis. Isn’t that worth pulling for?
Bucs – Chargers have too much firepower and their defense is catching up. Get them out of the playoff hunt before they gain anymore confidence.
Jets – An Indy loss will essentially elliminate another wildcard contender.
and now the rooting challenge…
Dolohins @ Ravens? -Steelers fans may have one thing in mind but crazier things have happened. If they are confident their team can beat the Ravens at home in few weeks, they could root for the Ravens to knock the wildcard threshold down a notch for the division, especially for the Bengals. Cincinnati’s only shot at playoff glory is to keep the 6-seed or AFC North leader at seven wins. Steelers fans in reality will think division lead first and will root for the Dolphins. Bengals fans can go either way. If they are being realistic they should be looking at draft positioning.
Bills or Raiders? – Ravens fans are likely to take the Raiders here. The Ravens are essentially three games from catching Oakland after losing to them in week five, so their best bet is for the Bills to fall off the map. The Steelers have a more realistic shot at catching the Raiders, especially with the Raiders remaining schedule. If Steelers fans think they have the division, an Oakland loss is their best chance at a playoff bye.
Giants or Steelers? – For Ravens and Bengals fans this is obvious. Unlike the Steeler’s fan choice above, the Giants don’t move the playoff needle. The Bengals need everyone in front of them to lose for any shot. Browns fans are supposed to think division first so naturally every single Cleveland fan will be pulling for Pittsburgh… except those who live in hate, which might be all of them.
|Seed||Week 11 standings||Week 12 standings||Best week 13 Bengals||Best week 13 Steelers||Best week 13 Ravens||Best week 13 Browns draft||Projected finish|
|1||Oak 8-2||NE 9-2||Oak 10-2||NE 9-3||Oak 10-2||NE 8-3||NE 12-4|
|2||NE 8-2||Oak 9-2||NE 9-3||Oak 9-3||NE 9-3||KC 8-3||KC 12-4|
|3||Hou 6-4||Bal 6-5||Bal 6-6||Pit 7-5||Bal 7-5||Hou 7-3||Bal 9-7|
|4||Bal 5-5||Hou 6-5||Hou 6-6||Hou 6-6||Hou 6-6||Bal 6-5||Hou 8-8|
|5||KC 7-3||KC 8-3||KC 8-4||KC 8-4||KC 8-4||Oak 8-3||Oak 11-5|
|6||Den 7-3||Mia 7-4||Mia 8-4||Mia 8-4||Den 7-5||Den 7-4||Den 10-6|
|7||Mia 6-4||Den 7-4||Den 7-5||Den 7-5||Mia 7-5||Mia 6-5||Pit 9-7|
|8||Pit 5-5||Pit 6-5||Pit 6-6||Buf 7-5||Pit 6-6||Pit 6-5||Buf 9-7|
|9||Ind 5-5||Buf 6-5||Buf 6-6||Bal 6-6||Ten 6-6||Ten 6-6||Mia 8-8|
|10||Buf 5-5||Ten 6-6||Ten 6-6||Ten 6-6||Buf 6-6||Ind 5-7||Ind 7-9|
|11||Ten 5-6||Ind 5-6||Ind 5-7||Ind 5-7||San 5-7||San 5-7||Ten 7-9|
|12||SD 4-6||SD 5-6||San 5-7||San 5-7||Ind 5-7||San 5-7||San 7-9|
|13||Cin 3-6-1||Cin 3-7-1||Cin 4-7-1||Cin 4-7-1||Cin 4-7-1||Cin 4-7-1||Cin 6-9-1|
|14||NYJ 3-7||NYJ 3-8||NYJ 4-8||NYJ 4-8||NYJ 4-8||NYJ 4-8||NYJ 6-10|
|15||Jax 2-8||Jax 2-9||Jax 3-9||Jax 3-9||Jax 3-9||Jax 3-9||Jax 3-13|
|16||Cle 0-11||Cle 0-12||Cle 0-12||Cle 0-12||Cle 0-12||Cle 0-12||Cle 0-16|
There you have it. We will do the rooting work for you. Just sit back and watch.