On Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts will take on the Tennessee Titans in a division game that doesn't really mean a whole lot. Sure, the Colts want to win it and they have something to play for after last week's game: pride. But the Colts have already locked up the AFC South and the Titans in the running for the first overall pick. This weekend is the rare week in the NFL in which the Colts' most meaningful and significant game actually isn't their own.
Rather, the game that will have the biggest impact on the Colts in the playoffs will take place on Sunday Night Football in Pittsburgh, as the Bengals take on the Steelers for the AFC North title. The winner will take over the number three seed in the AFC playoffs and host a first round game. The loser will head to Indianapolis to play the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on Wild Card weekend. So it's pretty easy to see why the Sunday night game means so much.
The Colts and Colts fans have to be rooting on the Steelers, as a first round matchup against the Steelers (who beat the Colts 51-34 earlier in the year) would be much worse than a first round matchup against the Bengals (who the Colts beat 27-0 earlier in the year). This isn't to say that the Bengals would be an easy first round matchup, but when it gets to the playoffs there are no easy games. And the Bengals would be a very favorable opponent for the Colts while the Steelers would be a very concerning opponent for the Colts.
So on Sunday, while the Colts will take on the Titans at 1 p.m. eastern in a game that they certainly want to win, the game that will have the most implications for them in the playoffs actually will be played at 8:30 p.m. eastern between the Bengals and the Steelers, as the loser will head to Indy for the first round.
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