The AFC North Week 14 Rooting Guide

The AFC North Week 14 Rooting Guide
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Rooting challenge of the week: Patriots @ Texans

The rooting guide is off to a slow start in 2015, mainly due to the fact that two AFC North teams have essentially been eliminated for weeks, and that the AFC playoff race really hasn’t been that exciting until recently. Heading into week 14, Bengals are now the team to catch in the AFC after the Patriots lost consecutive games. The Steelers are now healthy and dangerous, and are trying to catch the Jets, who are coming off of a miraculous comeback against the Giants, and the Chiefs who have one five in a row. They are also fighting off the Bills who are still relevant after a big win against the Texans, and the Texans who won four in a row before last week’s loss.
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 14’s Rooting Guide, there are many games importance to the North, but the choice is obvious in most cases as there are a few inter-conference games, and games that include only one real playoff threat. With that in mind, the following assumptions will be made this week:
1. Division pride will often take precedence over rivalry hatred in terms of divisional success, unless taunting from fans of rival divisions is enjoyable after they place more teams in the playoffs or go farther.
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):
Bills (6-6, #8 seed) @ Eagles

Titans @ Jets (7-5, #6)

Steelers (7-5, #7) @ Bengals (10-2, #1)

Indy (6-6, #4) @ Jaguars

Chargers @ Chiefs (7-5 #5)

Raiders (5-7, #10) @ Broncos (10-2, #2)

Patriots (10-2, #3) @ Texans (6-6, #9)
Giants @ Dolphins (5-7, #11 seed)
Eagles– Despite the fact that the the Bills are mathematically alive to overtake the Patriots, that’s as unlikely as the Ravens running the table to close the season. A Bills loss will get the Steelers one step closer to a playoff berth.
Titans – By default, its always nice when NY teams lose, and this week’s the added bonus is a potential Steelers leapfrog to a wildcard spot.
Jaguars – Although most would rather see Indy take the division because they are an easier matchup, the key is to actually make the playoffs first. An Indy loss lowers the wildcard threshold for Pittsburgh, and brings the Bengals one step closer to locking up a top three seed.
Chargers – An obvious choice because the Chargers are out, and the Chiefs are hot.
Giants – Unless you really despise the NFC East and want to see them embarrassed with a 6-10 division winner (and you wouldn’t be alone), take the Giants to essentially eliminate one of the preseason favorites in the AFC East.
and now the rooting challenge…
Raiders or Broncos? At first glance, this game almost ended up in the consensus section as a Raiders selection seems obvious. However its always good to completely eliminate teams in the hunt, and the many Steelers fans who have accepted a wildcard over a division title would want another to fall. Most Bengals fans would like Denver to lose because of the #1 seed race, and it would give them some cushion because the Bengals and Broncos play in two weeks. However, there are some who would like Denver to take the #2 seed, forcing the Patriots to play in the wildcard round.
Patriots or Texans? – This is an easy one for Bengals fans (and most fans in the US), but for Steelers fans, a loss for a semi-hot 6-6 Texans team may outweigh their hatred for the Patriots. Also, who wouldn’t want to see Indy in the playoffs over the Texans? The Texans are basically a quarterback away, but Indy has a half dozen holes to fill.
Steelers or Bengals? Last year, these two teams were battling for the division lead in their finale. This year the game is just as important, but more so due to their playoff seeding than their AFC North status. The game is way more important to the Steelers for playoff purposes, but for the Bengals, a win would get them one step closer to that first round bye. For the Ravens and Browns fans- if you want two teams to represent the AFC North in the playoffs, root for the Steelers. If you want a top seed, root for the Bengals.

SeedstandingsBest week 14 BengalsBest week 14 SteelersBest week 14 Ravens draftBest week 14 Browns draftProjected finish
1Cin 10-2Cin 11-2Den 11-2Cin 10-3Cin 11-2Cin 13-3
2Den 10-2Den 10-3NE 11-2Den 10-3Den 10-3Den 12-4
3NE 10-2NE 10-3Cin 10-3NE 10-3ND 10-3NE 12-4
4Ind 6-6Hou 7-6Ind 6-7Hou 7-6Hou 7-6Hou 9-7
5KC 7-5KC 7-6Pit 8-5NYJ 8-5NYJ 8-5KC 11-5
6NYJ 7-5NYJ 7-6KC 7-6Pit 8-5KC 7-6Pit 10-6
7Pit 7-5Pit 7-6NYJ 7-6KC 7-6Buf 7-6NYJ 9-7
8Buf 6-6Buf 6-7Buf 6-7Buf 7-6Pit 7-6Buf 8-8
9Hou 6-6Oak 6-7Hou 6-7Oak 6-7Oak 6-7Ind 8-8
10Oak 5-7Ind 6-7Oak 5-8Indy 6-7Indy 6-7Oak 6-10
11Mia 5-7Mia 5-8Mia 5-8Mia 6-7Mia 6-7Jax 6-10
12Jax 4-8Jax 5-8Jax 5-8Jax 5-8Jax 5-8Mia 6-10
13Bal 4-8Bal 5-8Bal 5-8San 4-9Bal 5-8Bal 4-12
14San 3-9San 4-9San 4-9Bal 4-9San 4-9San 4-12
15Ten 3-9Ten 4-9Ten 4-9Ten 4-9Ten 4-9Ten 3-13
16Cle 2-10Cle 3-10Cle 3-10Cle 3-10Cle 2-10Cle 2-14

The Ravens and Browns standings were presented to show not only their best shot at a #1 draft position, but also the importance of the AFC North showdown, and what would change with a Bengals or Steelers win.
Trolling question of the week: would the best draft scenario for the Ravens/Browns include the Steelers ending with the best possible record while missing the playoffs, or to have them just squeak in at 8-8 with talent deficiencies and grab a lower pick? Obviously the first scenario is funnier.

There you have it. We will do the work for you. Just sit back and watch.

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