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NFL Playoff Picture: Colts gaining ground on Texans in AFC South

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NFL: Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts didn’t have the best of days yesterday as they announced their star quarterback, Andrew Luck, suffered a concussion, but they got a bit of good news to end the day.

That came via the Houston Texans losing to the Oakland Raiders on Monday Night Football, dropping them to 6-4 on the season. That, coupled with the Colts’ win over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday to improve to 5-5, means that the AFC South race is just getting heated up as we approach the final six weeks of the season.

Of course, Indy’s previous meeting with Houston continues to loom large, as the Colts blew a big lead in the final minutes to stunningly lose that game. Had they won, they’d be in first place right now. Instead, they’re in second and the Texans currently have the tiebreaker advantage. The Colts can neutralize the head-to-head tiebreaker with a win on December 11 when they host the Texans (which will be an absolutely massive game in the playoff picture), but even then they have some ground to make up on the second tiebreaker. Indy is 2-2 within the division currently while Houston is 3-0, meaning that not only do the Colts need to win their final two AFC South games to hold that tiebreaker but they also need the Texans to lose their final three. If they tied on that one, it would go to the third tiebreaker of record in common games.

Basically, here’s the idea: the Colts still have some ground to make up to pass the Texans, and they won’t be able to do it in this one week thanks to the tiebreakers no matter what happens (even if the Colts beat the Steelers and the Texans lose to the Chargers). But the Colts made up ground this week, are in firm possession of second place in the AFC South, and look poised to make a run at the division title - if Andrew Luck is healthy.

Here’s how the rest of the AFC playoff picture looks right now:

  1. Oakland Raiders, 8-2 (AFC West)
  2. New England Patriots, 8-2 (AFC East)
  3. Houston Texans, 6-4 (AFC South)
  4. Baltimore Ravens, 5-5 (AFC North)
  5. Kansas City Chiefs, 7-3
  6. Denver Broncos, 7-3

In the hunt:

7. Miami Dolphins, 6-4

8. Pittsburgh Steelers, 5-5

9. Indianapolis Colts, 5-5

10. Buffalo Bills, 5-5

11. Tennessee Titans, 5-6

12. San Diego Chargers, 4-6

13. Cincinnati Bengals, 3-6-1

14. New York Jets, 3-7

15. Jacksonville Jaguars, 2-8

Eliminated:

16. Cleveland Browns, 0-11

And here’s what the NFC playoff picture looks like:

  1. Dallas Cowboys, 9-1 (NFC East)
  2. Seattle Seahawks, 7-2-1 (NFC West)
  3. Detroit Lions, 6-4 (NFC North)
  4. Atlanta Falcons, 6-4 (NFC South)
  5. New York Giants, 7-3
  6. Washington Redskins, 6-3-1