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Root for New England Tonight

Jim Rogash

You read that headline correctly. It is no mistake. Jets fans should be pulling for our bitter rival to defeat the Houston Texans tonight. You are going to have to hold your nose.

The Patriots have already clinched the AFC East. The division is gone. The Pats winning or losing no longer affects the Jets. What the Texans do tonight is meaningful.

While the most likely road to the Playoffs for the Jets involves passing the two AFC North teams in front of them, the Steelers and the Bengals, there are still scenarios where the Jets could pass one of those teams and the Colts. For this to happen, the Jets would have to win out, and the Colts would have to lose out. The Colts losing out might be a long shot, but a team that is young and inexperienced in some key spots might struggle with the pressure on for the first time. Indianapolis' win over the Titans yesterday was not very convincing.

The Colts losing out seems a bit more possible when you consider two of their last three are against the Texans. To think there is a realistic possibility, the Texans are going to need to have something to play for at the end of the year, especially Week 17 when they play the Colts. Houston emptied its bench in Week 17 last season when it had everything clinched.

A Texans win tonight almost wraps up the top seed in the AFC. They would be two games up on Denver with the head to head tiebreaker in hand for the one seed. They would be within one win of a bye if they won tonight. New England and Baltimore would be three games behind Houston with three to play, and the Texans would have head to head wins over both.

The race looks very different with a Houston loss tonight. The Broncos and Patriots would both be a game behind the Texans, and New England would have a head to head win in hand. The Texans would be in some danger of not having a bye in the first round and much more likely to need to play their starters in the final game against the Colts.

As stated above, passing the Colts is a fairly unlikely path for the Jets, but to the extent it impacts the Playoff picture, a Houston loss helps the Jets tonight. A New England loss doesn't help. It will be painful, but root for the Patriots tonight.