Week 16 rooting guide: Which teams do Colts need to lose to help Indy’s playoff odds?

The Indianapolis Colts are on the verge of a playoff berth but they must finish the season strong to ensure that they’ll have a playoff appearance this season.
Pittsburgh Steelers v Indianapolis Colts
Pittsburgh Steelers v Indianapolis Colts / Justin Casterline/GettyImages

Going into Week 16, the Indianapolis Colts are 8-6. They are tied with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans for the division lead. However, because of the NFL’s tie-breaking procedures, Jacksonville would be considered the champion of the AFC South. Even still, if the season ended today, the Colts would be in the playoffs as the seventh and final seed in the AFC.

However, the season doesn’t end today. While that means Indianapolis will need to do some more work to hold on to its playoff spot, it also means that Indy’s playoff spot could improve. With three weeks remaining in the regular season, the Colts could realistically end up anywhere from the seventh to the second seed. In order for that to happen, Indy will need some help.

So while fans will obviously be cheering for the Colts to win this weekend, let’s take a look at the other teams that fans should pull for so that Indy’s playoff chances can improve.

The teams that need to win in Week 16 to help the Colts

Let's start in the division. The path to the highest seed for Indy would be winning the AFC South. That would guarantee Indianapolis a top four seed and a home playoff game in Lucas Oil Stadium. Jacksonville and Houston losing would help the chance of that happening for the Colts.

The Jaguars are on the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Texans are hosting the Cleveland Browns. Indy definitely wants the Bucs to defeat the Jaguars, but it’s a bit more complicated in the game between Houston and the Browns.

Cleveland is currently the No. 5 seed with a 9-5 record. A loss for the Browns would help Indy gain ground in the Wild Card race. As long as Indy and Houston have the same record, the Colts have the tiebreaker. So this game is really a win-win for Indianapolis, but a Cleveland loss would be more beneficial.

As far as the other teams in the Wild Card race, including Indy, there are four 8-6 teams. One of those teams is the Texans and we already went over that scenario, so let’s look at the other two teams. The Cincinnati Bengals, who defeated the Colts, are currently the No. 6 seed. Indy would move up if Cincy lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday. The other team is the Buffalo Bills and they are currently No. 9 in the AFC. As long as Indy is winning, the Colts will be ahead of Buffalo, however, a Bills loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Saturday would give Indy some breathing room.

So let’s recap the Week 16 rooting guide for Colts’ fans.

1. Colts @ Falcons

What Indy needs: Colts to win, obviously.

2. Jaguars @ Buccaneers

What Indy needs: Buccaneers to win.

3. Texans vs. Browns

What Indy needs: This is a win-win, but a Houston win would be better.

4. Bengals @ Steelers

What Indy needs: Steelers to win.

5. Bills @ Chargers

What Indy needs: Chargers to win.