The Indianapolis Colts desperately needed a win over the Houston Texans to keep their playoff hopes alive. Unfortunately, they lost and are practically out of the playoff race as a result.
The Colts suffered a 22-17 loss at the hands of the Texans Sunday. As a result, they fell to 6-7 on the season and 2-3 within the AFC South. Houston is now 7-6 and is tied with the Tennessee Titans for the division lead.
The loss has not eliminated Indianapolis from the playoff race mathematically. However, the Colts no longer control their destiny with three games left in their season.
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This loss to the Texans was very costly because it means Houston swept the season series over Indianapolis. Now, the Texans holds the tiebreaker if they finish with the same record as the Colts at season’s end.
With that in mind, the Colts must have one more win than the Texans have at the end of the regular season if they want to make the playoffs. Remember, Indianapolis is one game behind Houston and Tennessee with three games remaining.
Essentially, Houston needs to win two of the last three games to eliminate Indianapolis from the division race.
The Texans’ final three games are against the 2-11 Jacksonville Jaguars, the 5-7-1 Cincinnati Bengals and the 7-6 Tennessee Titans. They should be able to beat two out of these three opponents.
If Houston somehow loses more than one game in the next three weeks, it is still a longshot for Indianapolis to win the division.
Indianapolis faces the 7-6 Minnesota Vikings, the 10-3 Oakland Raiders and the Jaguars in the final three weeks. Forgot trying to win three games, the Colts might be lucky to win one out of these three remaining games.
It is important to note the Colts hold the head-to-head season tiebreaker over the Titans. However, Tennessee can eliminate Indianapolis by winning its final three games of the season.
If all three division rivals finish the season with the same record, the Texans would win the AFC South due to head-to-head and division record tiebreakers.
For those wondering if Indianapolis can sneak in as Wild Card team, stop thinking about it. The Raiders (10-3) hold the first Wild Card spot. The Colts cannot catch them. Their only chance is at the second Wild Card spot; and their odds of getting it are slim too.
Currently, there is a tie for that spot between the Denver Broncos and the Miami Dolphins who each have an 8-5 record. The 7-5 Baltimore Ravens and 8-5 Pittsburgh Steelers are mixed into that race too. At 6-7, Indianapolis is not a real player for a Wild Card spot.
Again, Indianapolis is not mathematically eliminated from the playoff race. However, an in-depth look at the current standings (division and Wild Card) shows they are virtually out of it.
There is always a possibility of the Colts’ benefiting from a bizarre scenario over the next three weeks. However, with the deck stacked against them, it looks like they will miss the playoffs for second straight season.