The NFL season is already seven weeks old and after a slow start, the Indianapolis Colts have improved to 4-2. They are currently just a win off from the AFC leader, the San Diego Chargers (I know, I was surprised too).
This is the time of year where we will start to see separation between good and bad teams in the league. The Colts already have a solid lead in their division, and now we’ll take a possibly too early look at playoff seeding and the implications of every win and loss in the conference.
Obviously, the Colts need to win every week. But this week’s game could have important playoff seeding implications. The Cincinnati Bengals currently hold the two seed in the playoffs, and therefore a bye week. A win this week and the Colts will hold the two seed and a tie breaker over the Bengals.
The Colts would be the three seed if the playoffs started to, which would prompt a rematch with the Ravens. The New England Patriots are fourth and would currently host the Denver Broncos in the Wild Card round.
So who should Colts fans be rooting for this week?
As a general rule, you can always root for any NFC team to win. Their seeding has no impact on the Colts, who would only have to play an NFC team in the Super Bowl
Here are the easy calls (with home teams in bold):
New York over New England – Yes, this is a long shot. The Jets are not going to make the playoffs, but dealing a loss to the Patriots would make their season. There never really is a time when its appropriate for a Colts fan to root for the Patriots either.
Atlanta over Baltimore – The Ravens have to have a better record to get a higher seed over the Colts, and they’d have to overcome the Bengals division lead.
Washington over Tennessee – Always pull for losses in the AFC South. The one exception would be if they play someone currently making the playoffs in the AFC AND that team has already been eliminated from the playoffs (or close to it).
Kansas City over San Diego – The Chiefs have regressed this season, which really isn’t surprising. They also have a number of injuries that will likely keep them out of the playoffs. The Chargers are 5-1 and lead the AFC. A loss puts Denver at the top of the division, which has a tie breaker over the Colts. That said, the Charger need to come back to Earth and rooting for Phillip Rivers is just wrong.
Pittsburgh over Houston – The Colts and Steelers can do each other a favor this week before a show down in Pennsylvania on the 26th. Houston losing gives the Colts a bigger lead in the division and the Steelers are not the team they used to be.
San Francisco over Denver – This one is tough. If the Broncos win and Chargers lose, the Broncos vault to first in their division and in their conference. Ideally, the Colts finish the season with a better record than Denver and don’t have to face them in the playoffs at all.
Jacksonville over Cleveland – The Browns are just a game out of the playoffs and this is a situation where we can root for the Jags, who are not a playoff threat at all. Cleveland is a sneaky team that is getting better. Either way this game goes, it likely won’t matter when the playoffs come.
Everything is still a bit muddled right now, but by November we should start to see a clear playoff picture and each game will have strong implications on seeding.