Earlier today we looked at the current AFC playoff picture, and if the playoffs started today the Colts would be the fourth seed and would be hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round. And if you're like me, you think the Steelers are the worst of the potential first round match ups for Indy.
Tonight, the Denver Broncos and Cincinnati Bengals face off on Monday Night Football, and there could be implications for the Colts depending on the result. So let's take a quick look at the rooting guide for Colts fans.
Regardless of the result of tonight's game for the Bengals, the AFC North division title will come down to next week's game against the Steelers. It doesn't matter if the Bengals win or lose tonight - with a Bengals win next week Cincy wins the division, and with a Steelers win next week Pittsburgh wins the division. So I think it's pretty clear that on Sunday Night Football next week Colts fans should be rooting for the Steelers, because with a Pittsburgh win they would win the AFC North and thus not play the Colts in the Wild Card round. That would mean the Bengals, at best, would be 10-5-1 (if they win tonight but lose next week). The Bengals would not be a bad option for the Colts in the first round. With two straight losses to close out the season, however, it's quite possible that they will miss the playoffs. Leaving the Colts to play what would likely be the Chargers, as long as they win next week. And I'd rather face the Bengals than the Chargers.
In other words, here's the deal: tonight's game doesn't really matter as much as you might think when it comes to who the Colts would play in the first round of the playoffs. But with a Bengals loss tonight, it very, very likely means either the Steelers or the Chargers would be the first round opponent for the Colts. Now, of course, the Ravens could still be very much in play for the Colts' opponent then, so perhaps I should leave it to our own Matt Grecco to inform you of the implications of tonight's game:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>If Bengals win tonight in Denver, Colts will play the loser of PIT/CIN in first round. Mostly 50/50 for either team.</p>— Matt Grecco (@mgrex03) <a href="https://twitter.com/mgrex03/status/547069188523556864">December 22, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Colts Opponent in WC Round if Bengals lose tonight: SD: 39% BAL: 35.5% PIT: 10.5% CIN: 7% HOU: 6% KC: 2%</p>— Matt Grecco (@mgrex03) <a href="https://twitter.com/mgrex03/status/547069494481272832">December 22, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
So, Colts fans, are you rooting for Peyton Manning and the Broncos to win tonight? Are you rooting for the Bengals because of the implications? Are you rooting against the Bengals because of the playoff implications? Do you even care about who wins tonight? You can discuss that and more about tonight's game in the comments, so consider this your Monday Night Football open thread as well.