Week 13 AFC South Who to Root For: What's Best for Texans, Colts, Titans & Jags

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistNovember 29, 2012

Everyone is scoreboard watching.
Everyone is scoreboard watching.Mark Zerof-US PRESSWIRE

Welcome back to "Who to Root For."

Every week from now until the end of the season, this column will help fans of teams in the AFC South know how to root in the games that don't involve their favorite team.

Because playoff tiebreakers and draft scenarios are often tricky, this space will help guide you through the Week 13 slate so you can understand how each game affects your team.

And yes, we here at "Who to Root For" are well aware that we should be called "For Whom to Root". However, as this is the NFL and not the EPL, we're sticking with what works, thank you very much.


Houston Texans

Playing for: the top overall seed in the AFC. Their current odds are 60.8 percent according to the Football Outsiders.

Top Competitors: New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, Baltimore Ravens

Where They Stand: Houston has a one-game lead plus a tiebreaker over Baltimore. It has a two-game lead over New England and is up two games plus a tiebreaker over Denver.

Houston will make the playoffs with a win this weekend or with a combination of other teams winning and losing. Those scenarios are fun, but not really worth focusing on.

Who to Root For

Dolphins over the Patriots: This is one of those scenarios where if the Dolphins lose it helps the Texans clinch sooner, but who cares? A Pats loss would go a long way toward securing the top seed for the Texans.

Steelers over the Ravens: See above.

Lions over the Colts: Indy's no threat, but a Lions win brings the AFC South one step closer.

Buccaneers over the Broncos


Indianapolis Colts

Playing for: a wild-card berth (65.9 percent), a possible division title (1.4 percent).

Top Competitors: Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami DolphinsCincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans

Where They Stand: The Colts are a full game up over the Steelers and Bengals and would win the conference-record tiebreaker over both. They are two games up plus a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Dolphins.

The carnage last weekend put Indy three games clear of most of the second-tier contenders, and functionally all the Colts have to worry about is Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. The Dolphins could come into play if there was an odd three-team tie.

Who to Root For

Texans over the Titans: Colts fans need to accept that they are not division contenders. Their best hope for the playoffs may include Houston resting starters the last game of the year. Indy fans should root for anything that helps Houston clinch the top seed in the AFC.

Patriots over the Dolphins: While a Pats loss helps Houston, a Dolphins' loss eliminates one more contender and makes it a three-team race.

Chargers over the Bengals

Ravens over the Steelers: The only consolation here if the Steelers win is that it could help the Texans clinch the AFC early. Still, a Steelers loss greatly boosts Indy's chances.


Tennessee Titans

Playing for: A wild-card berth (2.5 percent). The Titans are alive by the slimmest of margins. We'll keep them here until their next game. If they lose, they will be playing for draft position.

Top Competitors: Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins, San Diego Chargers, Cincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts

Where The Stand: Tennessee is probably too far behind the Colts to worry about them, but they remain just two games back of the Steelers and Bengals.

They are a game back of Miami, but have a tiebreaker.

They are tied with the other top competitors. They hold a tiebreaker Buffalo, but lose to the Chargers. They will play the Jets later this season.

Who to Root for:

Lions over the Colts

Patriots over the Dolphins

Jaguars over the Bills

Cardinals over the Jets

Ravens over the Steelers

Chargers over the Bengals: This is the only matchup of teams that both affect the Titans. A San Diego win combined with a Baltimore and Tennessee win would mean the Titans would be just one game behind a wild card spot.

Is it a long shot? Yes.

Is it possible? Yes.


Jacksonville Jaguars

Playing for: The top pick in the 2013 draft. Their odds stand at 28.5 percent.

Top Competitors: Kansas City Chiefs, Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns, Philadelphia Eagles

Where They Stand: The Jaguars are a game behind the Chiefs for the worst record in football. The first tiebreaker is strength of schedule, with the worst SOS getting the top pick.

The true strength of schedule is often misreported. The correct way to figure SOS is not to calculate the record for all the teams already played. We already know the full schedule for the year, so there's no reason to pretend the record of future opponents is a variable.

The full strength of schedule as of the end of Week 12 for Kansas City is 89-87. The full strength of schedule for the Jaguars is 97-79. Again, that represents the year-to-date SOS of all 16 teams on the schedule of both clubs.

Kansas City is comfortably in front and a game up.

Jacksonville is a game "up" on the Browns, Eagles and Panthers.

Who to Root For:

Jaguars fans have to root against teams the Jaguars play and for teams the Chiefs play other weeks on the schedule.

Lions over the Colts

Chiefs over the Panthers

Seahawks over the Bears

Cardinals over the Jets

Broncos over the Buccaneers

Chargers over the Bengals: This would greatly boost the Jaguars' hopes. The Chargers' win counts double against the Chiefs and the Bengals' loss helps the Jags.

Raiders over the Browns


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