Contrary to what some think, should the New York Jets lose Monday night against the Titans, the Colts do NOT clinch a playoff spot. The only AFC team who got into the playoffs by backing in on Sunday were the Ravens. They've lost three in a row, and were pasted by Denver on Sunday, but the Pittsburgh loss to Dallas handed Baltimore a post-season berth.
In terms of backing in, a loss Monday by the Jets would not hurt. New York owns the tie-breaker over Indy (head-to-head), and should the Jets be guaranteed 8 loses, it means they are no longer a threat to the Colts.
Pittsburgh losing next week would help things as well. The Steeelers are 7-7, and they host the 8-6 Bengals next week. Handing the Steelers their 8th loss would improve the Colts' chances should they need to back in.
Thus, if you are looking for a "what if we can't win" scenario, just root for the Steelers and Jets to choke.
In general, there are very few instances where the Colts can miss out on the post-season. However, playing next week at KC will not be easy. Week 17 against the Texans could be a little bit easier, especially in light of the Patriots losing last night at home against the 49ers. Houston may have homefield locked up by then, and if history is any indication, they will rest starters. Week 17 is also the date scheduled for Chuck Pagano's return to the sideline after taking three months to battle leukemia, which doctors say is now in remission.
If the playoffs started right now, Houston is No. 1 with the Denver Broncos now jumping past New England for the No. 2 spot. The Pats are third with Baltimore barely holding onto No. 4. The Colts stay at 5 while the Bengals leap-frog the Steelers for 6. It is still possible for the Bengals to win the AFC North. They play at Pittsburgh next week, then they are home against Baltimore. With the way the Ravens are playing now, the Bengals have a legit shot.
Bottom line for the Colts: Win and get in. That simple. That's the way it should be, and if the Colts do not win one of their next two, I personally don't think they belong in the playoffs.