Some think that the Colts opted to lay down against the Jets on Sunday because the Colts would rather see the Jets roll into Lucas Oil Stadium in January — and not the Steelers.
The Cincinnati Bengals might be asking themselves a similar question in Week 17.
Four years ago, the Bengals played in their only postseason game since 1990. As champions of the AFC North and the third seed in the postseason, the Bengals hosted the sixth seed, which happened to be the Steelers.
So the Steelers tore up Carson Palmer’s knee and then knocked the Bengals out of the playoffs, a week before upending the Colts in the divisional round.
This time around, the Bengals can avoid seeing the Steelers in January by resting their starters against the Jets, who’ll nail down one of the wild-card berths by beating the Bengals.
Indeed, two of the three Pittsburgh paths to the playoffs depend on the Jets losing.
As explained by the league office on Monday, the Steelers get in with a win and: (1) a Texans loss or tie and a Jets loss or tie; (2) a Texans loss or tie and a Ravens loss or tie; or (3) a Jets loss or tie, a Ravens loss or tie, and a Broncos loss or tie.
Since Baltimore plays the Raiders and the Broncos host the Chiefs, the easiest option is No. 1, and it depends on the Jets losing.
So if the Jets beat the Bengals, Cincinnati won’t have to worry about being bounced again by those bullies from the ‘Burgh.
More importantly, the scar on Palmer’s left knee also won’t start throbbing like the lightning bolt on Harry Potter’s forehead.