Browns helped by Steelers resting starters, Ravens, Colts and Dolphins hurt

The Steelers’ decision to rest Ben Roethlisberger and other key starters on Sunday against the Browns is great news in Cleveland. Not so much in Baltimore, Indianapolis and Miami.

With the Browns, Ravens, Colts and Dolphins all competing in the AFC wild card race, a win for the Browns hurts the Ravens, Colts and Dolphins. (The Titans may also end up with a wild card berth, but their path to the playoffs is highly unlikely to be affected by the Browns-Steelers game.)

The Ravens automatically get into the playoffs if the Browns lose to the Steelers. But given that the Browns are unlikely to lose to the Steelers’ backups, the Ravens will need another path to the postseason. The good news for the Ravens is, if they beat the Bengals, they’re in. Even if the Ravens lose to the Bengals, they also get into the playoffs if the Dolphins lose. So they have multiple paths to the playoffs even if the Browns beat the Steelers’ backups.

The Colts win the AFC South if they beat the Jaguars and the Titans lose, but the Titans are favored to beat the Texans, so Tennessee is favored to take the AFC South. The Colts are more likely to be in the wild card race, where they need to win and get help in the form of one of the other three teams (Ravens, Browns, Dolphins) losing. The Browns losing is now less likely.

The Dolphins make the playoffs if they beat the Bills, or if the Browns, Ravens or Colts lose. With the Browns now less likely to lose, and the Ravens and Colts both heavily favored, the Dolphins may need to beat the Bills. The good news for the Dolphins is the Bills may rest their starters, just like the Steelers.

What it all boils down to is that all four AFC wild card contenders are favored on Sunday. If they all win, the Colts are the odd team out.

Browns helped by Steelers resting starters, Ravens, Colts and Dolphins hurt originally appeared on Pro Football Talk

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