It's currently December 1, and there are still four more weeks to go in the NFL season. Yet despite that, there's actually a scenario in which the Indianapolis Colts could clinch the AFC South division title this weekend. If the Colts (8-4) beat the Browns (7-5) on the road and if the Texans (6-6) lose to the Jaguars (2-10) on the road, the Colts will clinch the division title.
If the Colts beat the Browns and the Texans lost to the Jaguars, then Indy would improve to 9-4 and the Texans would fall to 6-7. Even if the Colts were to finish 0-3 and the Texans were to finish 3-0 - which would include a win over the Colts - then both teams would hold a 9-7 record. The first tiebreaker of head-to-head decisions wouldn't apply at that point, since in the scenario the two teams would have split the season series. Therefore it would go to the second tiebreaker in determining the division winner, which is record against the division. For the Colts, that would be 4-2 and for the Texans that would be 4-2. So then it would go to the third tiebreaker, which is record versus common opponents. The Colts, even in the scenario we discussed, would hold the better record versus common opponents. Advantage: Indianapolis, and that's why with a Colts win and a Texans' loss on Sunday the Colts would clinch yet another AFC South title.
What that would mean is that the team is guaranteed to host at least one playoff game in January as no worse than the fourth overall seed in the AFC playoff race, and it would mark the second consecutive AFC South title for the Colts under Chuck Pagano - and the franchise's ninth in thirteen years of being in the division.
Ultimately, the Colts currently hold a two game lead in the division and currently hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Texans, essentially making it a two and a half game lead with four weeks remaining. The Texans are the only team in the division with a shot at reaching the Colts (the Titans and Jaguars are both 2-10), but it's unlikely and a long shot. It seems certain that the Colts will clinch at some point, and it could be as early as this weekend.
If that happens, it would highlight just how poor the AFC South is. The Colts, who hold an 8-4 record, could clinch the division this Sunday. Their opponent, the Cleveland Browns, hold a 7-5 record and yet are currently in last place in the AFC North. The AFC South isn't the worst division in football this year, but that doesn't mean it's good - and because of that, there's already a scenario in which the Colts could clinch this weekend - though needing some help to do so this early.