Week 16 AFC South Who to Root For: What's Best for Texans, Colts, Titans & Jags

Nate DunlevyGuest ColumnistDecember 20, 2012

Keep looking up, Bruce. You are almost home.
Keep looking up, Bruce. You are almost home.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 16 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 91 percent, according to Advanced NFL Stats.

Top Competitors: New England Patriots, Denver Broncos

Where They Stand: Houston is two games up on the Patriots and Broncos, owning the tiebreaker over Denver.

One win in the last two games clinches it for Houston. One Patriots and Broncos loss will also lock it down.

Houston's ideal seeding would put the Broncos at No. 2 and the Pats at No. 3.

Who to Root For:

  • Browns over the Broncos
  • Jaguars over the Patriots
  • Come to think of it, don't waste your time rooting. Just hope for a Houston win.


Indianapolis Colts

Playing For: the No. 5 seed in the AFC. Their current odds are 82 percent for the No. 5 seed and 100 percent for the playoffs.

Top Competitors: Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals

Where They Stand: Indy is a mortal lock for a playoff spot and will clinch the No. 5 seed with a win over Kansas City.

The only way they miss the playoffs is with two losses and an unlikely chain of games breaking against them.

Who to Root For:

  • Texans over the Vikings: Houston wraps up the top seed with a win, and Indy would definitely rather face them in the playoffs than the Patriots or Broncos.
  • Bengals over the Steelers: a Steelers loss and the Colts are in.
  • Lions over the Falcons: a Lions win and Indy's in.
  • Jets over the Chargers: a Jets win and the Colts are in.
  • Panthers over the Raiders: same story.
  • Jaguars over the Patriots: Indy wants to see New England in the three slot.
  • Broncos over the Browns: Pats and Broncos would be ideal for the second round.
  • Ravens over the Giants: Baltimore is the ideal first-round foe for Indianapolis.


Tennessee Titans

Playing For: the best draft pick possible.

Top competitors: Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals, Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, Buffalo Bills, San Diego Chargers, Cleveland Browns

Where They Stand: The Titans are tied for the sixth-worst record in football, but they are in a scrum with so many other teams that they could wind up as high as third or as low as No. 13 come April.

The situation is such a mess that it's still too early to calculate tiebreakers.

Who to Root For:

  • Lions over the Falcons
  • Eagles over the Redskins
  • Chargers over the Jets
  • Raiders over the Panthers
  • Bills over the Dolphins
  • Browns over the Broncos
  • Cardinals over the Bears


Jacksonville Jaguars

Playing For: the top pick in the 2013 draft.

Top Competitors: Kansas City Chiefs

Where They Stand: The Jaguars are tied with the Chiefs for the league's worst record. The first tiebreaker is strength of schedule, with the worse 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 15 for Kansas City is 112-112. The full strength of schedule for the Jaguars is 121-103. 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 there's really no way for Jacksonville to catch up at this point.

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.
  • Vikings over the Texans
  • Chiefs over the Colts: Honestly, this is the only game that matters.
  • Steelers over the Bengals
  • Falcons over the Lions
  • Packers over the Titans
  • Bucs over the Rams
  • Saints over the Cowboys
  • Chargers over the Jets
  • Raiders over the Panthers
  • Bills over the Dolphins
  • Broncos over the Browns
  • Ravens over the Giants
  • Cardinals over the Bears