It’s not often a team is rooting for their division rivals. But when we get into the closing weeks of the season, playoff chances take priority over rivalries. And thus, we have an interesting situation as the Browns and Steelers close out Week 17 on Monday Night Football.
The 7-8 Browns were eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday when the Chargers beat the Broncos. The 7-7-1 Steelers are barely alive, but a win will keep their playoff chances alive heading into Week 18.
However, the Ravens also have something at stake with this game. The Ravens are on the outside looking in at the AFC playoff picture with an 8-8 record and need help in Week 18. The result of Browns-Steelers will clarify exactly what kind of help Baltimore needs to get to the playoffs.
The Ravens need to beat the Steelers in Week 18. Additionally, they need the following based on the Week 17 MNF outcome:
Browns win: Colts loss, Chargers loss, Dolphins loss or tie, and Browns loss or tie
The Steelers are alive in the playoffs while the Browns and Dolphins have been eliminated. And yet, they implicate things based on how complicated the tiebreakers could get.
If there are three or more teams in a tie at the end of the season, the head-to-head win percentage only applies if one team has swept all the other teams. If not, it moves on to conference record.
In this case, the Ravens have swept the Colts and Chargers. If Baltimore, Indianapolis, and LA finish in a three-way tie, the head-to-head sweep advances the Ravens. However, if the Dolphins win, they would also be 9-8. The Dolphins beat the Ravens so there is no longer a sweep of the tied teams. Conference record is the next tiebreaker and Baltimore cannot claim that one.
If the Browns beat the Steelers on Monday, they’ll be tied with Baltimore, but actually ahead based on the division record tiebreaker. If the Browns win this week and next week, they block out the Ravens from the playoff picture even if Baltimore wins next week.
Who are Ravens fans rooting for?
With all that in mind, Ravens fans are rooting for the Steelers on Week 17 Monday Night Football. It decreases the amount of events Baltimore needs to have happen to claim a playoff berth.