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Colts maintain lead in AFC South despite loss

Though the Colts lost 45-10 on Sunday to the Steelers, they maintained their lead in the AFC South due to the Texans also losing.

Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Indianapolis Colts suffered an ugly loss at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, losing 45-10 in primetime on Sunday Night Football.  Despite the ugliness, however, it's important to maintain perspective, and one of the most important things to maintain perspective about is this: the Colts still lead the AFC South.

Indy entered the day leading the Houston Texans by a half of a game for the division lead thanks to the head-to-head tiebreaker.  The Texans blew any chance they had of taking over the division lead this week, however, when they lost 30-21 to the Buffalo Bills on the road.  That game also had big wild card implications, as both the Texans and the Bills are now 6-6 but with Buffalo possessing the head-to-head advantage.  That was a big loss for Houston in a game that they needed to win, but they fell short.  Thus, even though the Colts lost to the Steelers (who improved to 7-5, which is further bad news for the Texans), they stayed in first place.

The Jaguars also blew an opportunity, as a win on Sunday would have put them within one game of being tied for the division lead with a matchup against the Colts coming up next weekend.  Instead, they fell to 4-8 on the season in a thrilling 42-39 Titans victory behind Marcus Mariota.  The Titans have looked better recently but still are just 3-9 on the year.

Basically, here's the deal: if the Colts take care of business in the final month of the season, they'll make the playoffs and win the division.  They have a road game against the Jaguars, a home game against the Texans, a road game against the Dolphins, and then a home game against the Titans still remaining, meaning that three of their final four games are against the AFC South.  We can throw out the numbers - the Colts have won 16 in a row vs. the AFC South; the Texans have never won in Indianapolis; etc. - but the bottom line is that if the Colts win the division games, they're the division champs.  Even more simplistic, if the Colts beat the Texans in week 15 (a possible return date for Andrew Luck), they will almost certainly win the division.  It's probably fair to call that game the AFC South championship game.  Both teams losing on Sunday just further emphasized how important that matchup on December 20 is going to be, though for now the Colts have maintained their hold on first place thanks to the tiebreaker.