The 11-1 Houston Texans clinched a playoff birth this past Sunday with a 24-10 drubbing of the Tennessee Titans in a game where the final score really wasn't an indicator of just how dominate Houston played. The score was 21-3 at halftime. After that, Houston seemed to coast, and the Titans didn't put up much of a fight when they did.
The win propelled Houston to their second consecutive playoff berth after nine straight years of missing the post-season. However, it did not give them their second AFC South division championship in as many years. That is because the Indianapolis Colts (8-4) still have a shot.
Kind of amazing, isn't it?
We're entering Week 14 of the 2012 regular season, and the Texans and Colts still have not played each other. Because of this, and because Indy has an uncanny habit of hanging around all season long, it is still possible for the Colts to win the AFC South. It's unlikely. Very unlikely, but possible. Here's what would need to happen:
- The Colts would likely need to win out, dispatching the Titans this Sunday, sweeping the Texans, and defeating the Chiefs at Arrowhead along the way. Not an easy task. The Colts last swept the Texans in 2009. Since then, the two teams have split the season series. Houston has never won in Indianapolis. Ever.
- The Texans must lose this Sunday to the Patriots. If they win, Houston likely locks up the AFC South. They also all but lockup homefield throughout the AFC playoffs. Doesn't matter if the Colts sweep them, though I imagine it would dent their pride and piss off their fanbase just a touch if Indy did. If Houston beats New England and Minnesota, but gets swept by Indy, they still win the South because of their overall record (13-3 under that scenario).
- If Houston wins against the Patriots, they'd need to lose their final three game of the season, and the Colts would need to win all their remains games. Bottom line, in pretty much every scenario, the Colts must sweep the Texans.
- If Houston loses its next two (Pats and Colts), they'd be 11-3. If the Colts win their next two (Titans and Texans), they'd be 10-4 with two games left. It is possible that the Colts could lose to the Chiefs in Week 16 and still win the South. However, the Texans would need to choke at home to the Vikings on December 23rd. Unlikely, but remotely possible. If this happens, it sets up a final showdown in Indianapolis on December 30th between a (potentially) 11-4 Texans team and a (potentially) 10-5 Colts team. The winner would earn the AFC South title and a home playoff game.
Realistically, when Houston got lucky in their wins over Jacksonville and Detroit in Weeks 11 and 12, respectively, it pretty much gift-wrapped the AFC South to them. However, next week's Monday Night Football game between the Texans and Patriots in Foxborough will be very interesting should the Colts take care of business and squash the Titans on Sunday.
If Indy wins and Houston poops on themselves in New England, the Week 15 match-up in Houston gets a helluva lot more interesting.