Re: Colts playing for anything?
posted at 12/23/2012 10:15 PM EST
No, the Colts aren't playing for anything. The Colts will play #4 Baltimore in January, and they might as well start practicing for Baltimore tomorrow. The lineup is pretty much locked down, except the Patriots have a choice, to win or to lose.
What are the Patriots playing for?
If the Patriots beat Miami, there's a slight chance that the disinterested Colts will beat Houston and the Pats will get a bye. Also on the any given Sunday mythology, the Kansas City Chiefs will beat Denver at Denver. That's the late game.
Otherwise, if the Pats beat Miami they host Cincinnati (8.5 point favorites). Then they travel to Denver (6.1 point underdogs due to the bye week). Then IF Houston wins, they travel to Houston.
If the Patriots lose to Miami and if Baltimore wins (another big if with both teams having nothing whatsoever to play for), the Pats host Indy (13.6 point favorites). Then they travel to Houston (2.2 point underdogs due to the bye week. Then IF Denver wins, they travel to Denver.
In other words, the Patriots are playing for considerably less than zero.
In a Machiavellian version of football, The Patriots need to keep ahead of Miami for three quarters until they're 99.9% sure that Houston is mashing hapless Indy in front of their home crowd like a potato (not a 99% sure thing yet) and that Baltimore has a chance to pull it out at Cincy (not likely but possible, given that both teams want to mail it in equally). At that point, Tom Brady needs to drop back 90 yards into his own endzone, place the ball nicely on the ground in the endzone and then triple dog dare a defensive player to pick up the football.
If I were Baltimore, I'd want to lose to Cincy by at least 75 points, guaranteeing a slightly better road to the AFC Championship Game.