Everyone knows that the Cleveland Browns likely will not make the playoffs, but it feels good to know that the team has not been eliminated heading into Week 14. You might not think the Browns can make the playoffs at 9-7, but that is the same record Cleveland had when they made their last playoff appearance nearly a decade ago.
It is not worth going through every game with playoff implications from now until Week 17, because if the Browns lose or something, we can throw all of those other weeks out of the window. Therefore, we will take this on a week-by-week basis in terms of projecting who we want to win relevant games. Before I get into that, I need to address two teams: the Browns and the Baltimore Ravens.
- The Cleveland Browns need to win their final four games. They could technically make it in at 8-8, but then we're talking about 100% of the games going our way pretty much.
- The Baltimore Ravens need to go 1-3 over their final four games. They face Houston, New Orleans, Cleveland, and Cincinnati. I'm projecting Cincinnati as their victory, although they did lose to them earlier this season.
Now then, let's get to the Week 14 games that we care about (I have underlined the teams I think should win):
Indianapolis Colts vs. Tennessee Titans: Peyton Manning is in a huge funk right now, but I just can't imagine the Colts missing the playoffs. They still control their own destiny, because if they win out, they are the division winners. Either the Colts or the Jaguars are going to win the division, and I'm putting my odds on Indianapolis.
Oakland Raiders vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: With me favoring the Colts for the division, that means it is time to root for Jacksonville to lose. They also have a head-to-head tiebreaker against us, so it's better to hope they finish at 8-8. We don't want Oakland to finish the season at 9-7, but since they are a hot/cold team, an 8-8 finish for them could be possible too. We could reverse this scenario too -- if the Colts lose on Thursday, we would root for Jacksonville to win the division while also taking Oakland out of the picture.
Cleveland Browns vs. Buffalo Bills: The Bills have been playing teams very tough, whether it be in shootouts or defensive battles. In the end, Buffalo has one of the league's worst records and they have had trouble beating Cleveland in the past several years.
Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets: Chances are, the outcome of this game won't really matter to us. The only reason I even listed it is because if the Dolphins finish the season tied with us a 9-7, it helps create a situation where the Browns can't be eliminated solely on a head-to-head tiebreaker if a team like the Chiefs also finish at 9-7.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Diego Chargers: Gosh, this is a tough one. I think whoever wins this game takes the division, meaning we will need to root against the other team. Since the Chiefs have a two game lead already and beat Cleveland, it's probably better to root for the Chiefs to win the division and force San Diego to win their final three games.
- Baltimore Ravens vs. Houston Texans: Out of all the games, this is the one that matters the most. If Baltimore wins, all they need is one more win to finish ahead of the Browns. We need Houston's offense to come out firing.
It might look terribly against the Browns due to me listing the road team as needing to win in most of the games above, but in a lot of the scenarios, if the home team wins, we'll just have to reverse the teams we are rooting for. The Houston victory is the one we need most, and they are playing at home.
If you respond with a comment that says something like, "get real you fool, we're not making the playoffs," then I'll remove your comment because you will have clearly missed the fun and optimistic point of the post.