Week 17 AFC South Who to Root For: What's Best for Texans, Colts, Titans & Jags

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistDecember 28, 2012

Justin Snow isn't a Colt anymore, but if he were, he'd be scoreboard watching this weekend.
Justin Snow isn't a Colt anymore, but if he were, he'd be scoreboard watching this weekend.Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

Welcome back to "Who to Root For."

We've finally arrived at the finish line. The 2012 season is all but in the books.

This column is designed to help fans of teams in the AFC South know how to root in the games that don't involve their favorite team. Whether your boys are playoff bound or looking for the first overall pick in the draft, this is your one-stop shop for all your rooting needs.

Because playoff tiebreakers and draft scenarios are often tricky, this space will help guide you through the Week 17 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 52.5 percent, according to the Football Outsiders.


Top Competitors: New England Patriots, Denver Broncos


Where They Stand: Houston is one game up on New England and tied with Denver for the best record in the AFC.

If the Texans win, they get the top seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.


Who to Root For:

Chiefs over the Broncos: A Denver loss, however unlikely, gives the Texans a bye.

Dolphins over the Patriots: A New England loss, however unlikely, gives the Texans a bye. If both teams lose, the Texans claim the top seed in the AFC no matter what they do against Indianapolis.



Indianapolis Colts

Playing For: Warm Fuzzies


Top Competitors: Elmo, The Snuggle Fabric Softener Bear, my dog Toby. Their odds are not good as my dog is very warm and quite fuzzy.


Where They Stand: The Colts are locked into the five seed, but that doesn't mean they don't have a rooting interest on Sunday. There is still an ideal playoff scenario they can pull for.

Indy wants to play Baltimore, then Houston in the playoffs. That's the easiest path forward.


Who to Root For:

Chiefs over the Broncos

Dolphins over the Patriots

Bengals over the Ravens: This configuration of three games means that even with an Indianapolis win on Sunday, the playoff order would remain unchanged. That would be great news for the Colts, who could upset the Ravens and still avoid Peyton Manning in the second round.



Tennessee Titans

Playing For: The fifth pick in the 2013 draft.


Top Competitors: Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills, seven other teams


Where They Stand: There is a giant scrum around four to six wins, and the Titans are smack-dab in the middle.


The NFL has released the potential draft order along with strength of schedule numbers.


Who to Root For:

Bucs over the Falcons

Bills over the Jets

Browns over the Steelers

Lions over the Bears

Panthers over the Saints

Chargers over the Raiders: Oakland is guaranteed to finish ahead of the Titans based on the strength of schedule tiebreaker.

Cardinals over the 49ers



Jacksonville Jaguars

Playing for: the first overall pick in the 2013 draft. Their odds are 34.3 percent.


Top Competitor: Kansas City Chiefs


Where They Stand/Who to Root For: This is easy. The Chiefs and Jaguars are tied for the worst record in football. The Chiefs will win the tiebreak over the Jaguars if the two teams finish tied.

If the Chiefs lose, they get the No. 1 pick.

If the Chiefs win and the Jags lose, the Jags get the No. 1 pick.

If both teams win, the Chiefs get the pick.

So Jags fans will be rooting for the Chiefs over the Broncos.