Tonight's game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Indianapolis Colts will determine exactly what we need to transpire in the final two weeks of the season.
If the Bengals win tonight, we'd need them to win the following week at Denver, and hope the Broncos lose their final game against the 49ers. If the Bengals lose tonight, we would need the Broncos to beat them next week, and then of course lose to the Steelers in Week 17.
Is either scenario better for us? I think a Colts win tonight increases our playoff chances significantly. If Cincy did win tonight, we would need Denver to lose their final two games against the Bengals and 49ers. Both games are in Denver.
Friggin Minnesota. They really blew an opportunity of their own yesterday to position themselves for a playoff berth in the NFC. More importantly for us, they put New York in solid position heading into the final two weeks.
If we are to make the playoffs, the Jets must lose one of their final two games, preferably to Miami this weekend. For one, we don't want to have our playoff fate resting on Oakland beating the Jets in Week 17. Secondly, a victory over Oakland will hurt their strength of victory, whereas a victory over Miami would not.
As for Buffalo and Tennesee, who both sit at 7-7? Well, one of the two will be out of it next week when the two clash. The Bills finish the season at Baltimore, while the Titans finish at home against New England. Buffalo would have a superior conference record than the Steelers if they were to win out, so a victory by the Titans next week would be preferable.
Again though, much depends on what happens tonight. Let me ask you this...Would you rather have to depend on Denver beating the Bengals next week at home, or would you rather have to depend on the 49ers beating Denver in Week 17? I know I'd rather hang my hat on Denver's chances.
So, find a suitable place to watch tonight's game between the Colts and the Bengals and cheer on the Colts. It should be an entertaining matchup between two teams heading in opposite directions. Indianapolis has lost 3-of-4, including last week's embarrassing loss to the Jaguars. The Bengals on the other hand, have won four in a row since blowing that huge lead against the Chargers a month ago. The big story for the Bengals has been their defense. Obviously the D is going to have to have their best game of the year tonight against a Colts team that is hungry for a win, and still alive for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs in the AFC.
Regardless of the outcome tonight, we will still be alive for a playoff berth tomorrow morning. But, I believe our odds are best if the Colts can take down the Bengals tonight.