Three things to watch in this week’s games.
AFC South dilemma
The Colts and Titans will wrestle with the need to balance resting players for the playoffs and trying to stay sharp when they meet. The Titans are the AFC South champs and the Colts are a wild card. The Colts started 3-4 and have since won eight straight.
They need a win this weekend in order to secure their sixth straight season with 12 or more wins. With a win, the Titans would finish 14-2, which would be the best record in franchise history.
Since the division was created, only the Titans (2002 and ’08) and Colts (’03, ’04, ’05, ’06, ’07) have won the division.
Pats need a win ... and help
The Patriots should take care of the Bills in Buffalo. But that would leave them all dressed up at 11-5 with no place to go, unless the Jets beat the Dolphins.
No team has finished 11-5 and not made the playoffs since 1985. The Patriots, though, could be overconfident against the Bills.
They’ve won 10 straight against them and 15 of the past 16.
They have outscored the Bills 308-96 in the 10-game losing streak, with an average margin of victory of 31-10. If the Dolphins beat the Jets, the only way the Patriots can get in is via the second wild-card spot — the Colts already have clinched one of the berths — and that would require the Ravens to lose at home to the disappointing Jaguars.
If you like to see who wins on the field, check out the Broncos at the Chargers for the AFC West title. If you like to see who wins when the draft comes around, check out these two lowly teams: The Chiefs, who visit the Bengals, and the Rams, who visit the Falcons. While the Lions are assured of the No. 1 draft pick, the Show Me State’s two teams are deadlocked for No. 2.
They’re both 2-13. So the Chiefs pick second if they lose and the Rams win, and vice versa. If both teams finish with 2-14 records, the strength-of-schedule tiebreaker would be applied.
Amazingly, the opponents’ record for both teams entering the final week was 128-111-1. If the teams remain tied after strength of schedule is applied, a coin flip will determine which team picks second.
The Cardinals will host a playoff game next weekend for the first time in 61 years.