Week 14: Who to Root For

(2020 Playoffs)

The Raiders narrowly escaped the winless Jets (now 0-12) in Week 13 to earn themselves another week contending for a playoff spot. Unfortunately, the rest of the NFL did not play along. It appears we’re going to have to bully our ways into the playoffs, as the three teams ahead of us coming into the weekend (Browns, Dolphins, and Colts) all won. And as for the teams right on our butts? Well, only 1 lost (the Broncos). In total, out of the 6 outcomes we needed last week, the only one that hit was the Bills beating the 49ers – an outcome we will continue to need, as with our Week 4 loss to Buffalo, we will need them to win the division in order to avoid missing out because of the Head-to-Head tiebreaker they have over us.

Thankfully however, we won our game, and so we managed to hold onto our #8 spot.
If we had lost, we would’ve dropped to the #10 Seed as a result of the other game outcomes. And as readers of last week’s Playoff Watch post know, that was the worst scenario possible – so it’s a good thing we won!

But what do we need this week?
First, I will update you on the current Playoff picture, and then we will dive right into the game outcomes we need.

The current AFC Playoffs picture (look familiar?):

#1 Seed: Steelers  ||  #2 Seed: Chiefs  ||  #3 Seed: Titans  ||  #4 Seed: Bills
#5 Seed: Browns  || #6 Seed: Dolphins  || #7 Seed: Colts

The AFC Teams In-the-Hunt are currently (in order):
Raiders (#8), Ravens, Patriots, Broncos
*the Broncos are all but eliminated by this point with their loss last week (are now 4-8 and would require a literal miracle)

And now, here are the key match-ups to watch in Week 14, with the team to root for bolded:

Playoff Seed Competition:
CHIEFS i’m nauseous (11-1) vs Dolphins (8-4)   [Sunday @ 10:00am PST]
— First off, F the Chiefs. However, we need the Dolphins to lose as they hold one of the beloved playoff seeds (#6).
• TITANS (8-4) vs Jaguars (1-11)   [Sunday @ 10:00am PST]
— We need the Titans to win their division, as we will not have an opportunity to break any potential tie via a Head-to-Head matchup this season.
• Steelers (11-1) vs BILLS (9-3)   [Sunday @ 5:20pm PST]
— With our Week 4 loss to the Bills, they hold a Head-to-Head tiebreaker over us. As such, we need them to win their division at this point. You never want head-to-head winners squaring off with you in the wildcard slots, since it’s an easy way to find yourself out of the playoffs.
In-the-Hunt Competition:
• Patriots (6-6) vs RAMS (8-4)   [Thursday @ 5:20pm PST]
— The Patriots are barely 1 Game behind us, and if it were to come down to it, they’d hold the Head-to-Head tiebreaker with their Week 3 win over us. To emphasize the point: if the Pats win and we lose this week, they’d jump us in the seeding.

• Broncos (4-8) vs PANTHERS (4-8)   [Sunday @ 10:00am PST]
— The Broncos are all but eliminated by this point, but this would put the final nail in their coffin and make it official.

You might notice I haven’t mentioned the Ravens vs Browns game.
That’s because it’s actually a more complicated scenario than it seems, and as such, I think warrants its own section.
At the surface, it would seem that we want the Browns to win, because they seem uncatchable.
That is, however, until you take into account their future schedules.

The Browns (9-3) still have games against the Steelers (L), Giants (W), and Jets (W)
The Ravens (7-5) still have games against the Jaguars (W), Giants (W), and Bengals (W). Cupcake, isn’t it?

IF the Browns win, they can expect to finish 12-4 (w/ 8-4 Conf Rec) || IF the Browns LOSE, they can expect to finish 11-5 (w/ 7-5 Conf Rec)
IF the Ravens WIN, they can expect to finish 11-5 (w/ 7-5 Conf Rec) || IF the Ravens lose, they can expect to finish 10-5 (w/ 6-6 Conf Rec)

The Raiders winning out (something we need to do anyway at this point) would put us at 11-5 (w/ 9-3 Conf Rec).

Do you notice something? Interesting, isn’t it?
If the Browns win, and the Ravens lose, the Browns will be uncatchable and we’ll be left fighting for 2 playoffs slots.
If the Ravens win, and the Browns lose, now it gets interesting!
• This is because in this scenario, we would simultaneously win TWO Tiebreakers at the same time. We would hold the Head-to-Head tiebreaker over the Browns (from Week 8), and we would hold the Conference Record tiebreaker over the Ravens, too!
— It would be: Raiders 11-5 (w/ 9-3 Conf Rec)
————→ vs Browns 11-5 (w/ 7-5 Conf Rec) ← Raiders WIN Head-to-Head Tiebreaker
————→ vs Ravens 11-5 (w/ 7-5 Conf Rec) ← Raiders WIN Conference Record Tiebreaker

RAVENS (7-5) vs Browns (9-3)  …  [Monday @ 5:15pm PST]
• see: above.

And so, there it is!
Another wild week in the playoff hunt is upon us, and we’re right in the thick of it!

No matter what though, from hereon out, our task in-house is simple.