Week 14 AFC South Who to Root For: What's Best for Texans, Colts, Titans & Jags?

Nate DunlevyGuest ColumnistDecember 6, 2012

"You see, if the Colts lose and you win..."
"You see, if the Colts lose and you win..."Bob Levey/Getty Images

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 14 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 71.5 percent according to the Football Outsiders.

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

Where They Stand: Houston has a two-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.

In the AFC South, the Texans have a three-game lead, and can win the division with a win and an Indianapolis loss.

Who To Root For:

Raiders over the Broncos

Redskins over the Ravens

Titans over the Colts

For Houston, it's simple. If they beat the Patriots, they'll be up at least two games and a tiebreak over all three division winners with just three games left to play. A win over the Colts would lock up the top seed.


Indianapolis Colts

Playing for: a wild-card berth (67.8 percent), a possible division title (1.8 percent).

Top Competitors: Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals, 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.

It's hard to imagine any other team coming from behind to catch Indy.

They are three games behind the Texans with two games to play against them.

Who to Root For:

Broncos over the Raiders: No one in Indianapolis wants to see the Colts play Denver. Root for Denver to win to get out of that four seed.

Redskins over the Ravens: The only of the four division winners the Colts have any hope of competing with in the playoffs is the Ravens. Root for them to fall to the four seed.

Cowboys over the Bengals

Chargers over the Steelers: These are the two games that matter most. If either breaks Indy's way, the playoffs get a lot closer.

Patriots over the Texans: How to root in this game depends on what happens in the Colts-Titans game. A win by the Colts means rooting for the Pats is fair game, as the division is back in play. Additionally, anything that helps get New England out of the three and four seed is good.

However, if the Colts lose, pull hard for Houston. If they clinch everything, they may give the Colts a gift in Week 17, and a loss to the Titans could mean they need it.


Tennessee Titans

Playing For: As high a draft pick as possible.

Top Competitors: Philadelphia Eagles, Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns, San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders

Where They Stand: The Titans are in a scrum of teams ranging from three to five wins. Obviously, fans hope they win their games, but there's no reason not to root for other teams to win too.

Who to Root For:

Raiders over the Broncos

Bills over the Rams

Eagles over the Buccanneers

Panthers over the Falcons

Browns over the Chiefs

Chargers over the Steelers

Jets over the Jaguars

Dolphins over the 49ers

Cardinals over the Seahawks

Saints over the Giants

Lions over the Packers


Jacksonville Jaguars

Playing for: The top pick in the 2013 draft. Their odds stand at 39.5 percent.

Top Competitors: Kansas City Chiefs, Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles, Oakland Raiders

Where They Stand: The Jaguars are tied with 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 97-95. The full strength of schedule for the Jaguars is 106-86. Again, that represents the year-to-date SOS of all 16 teams on the schedule of both clubs.

Kansas City is comfortably in front.

Jacksonville is a game "up" on the Raiders, 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

Broncos over the Raiders

Ravens over the Redskins

Cowboys over the Bengals

Panthers over the Falcons

Buccaneers over the Eagles: Even though the Eagles are in contention for the pick, at this point rooting for the Bucs hurts the Chiefs.

Chiefs over the Browns

Chargers over the Steelers

Colts over the Titans

49ers over the Dolphins

Saints over the Giants

Patriots over the Texans