The Indianapolis today lost to the Houston Texans 22-17, and it dropped them to 6-7 on the year and to third place in the AFC South. As a result of the loss the Colts’ playoff hopes are now very, very slim, but to get an idea of just how slim it is let’s take a look at the standings.
The Texans are now 7-6, tied with the Tennessee Titans for first place. That puts the Colts in third place behind both of them at 6-7, and things are even worse for Indianapolis than those numbers might indicate.
The Colts do hold the tiebreaker over the Titans, meaning that if they can manage to finish with the same record as Tennessee the Colts will have the edge in the seeding. But with the Texans? Because Houston swept the season series - the first time they’ve ever swept the Colts - they now own the head-to-head tiebreaker no matter what, so they Colts will have to finish with a better record than the Texans, not just an equal one.
So let’s just suppose the Colts can win out - which is a highly unlikely scenario, considering how they’ve played this year - they would finish the season 9-7. In order to win the division in that scenario, they would need the Texans to go 1-2 in their remaining three games. Again, that’s unlikely. If the Colts go 2-1 during these final three weeks, they’d finish 8-8 and would need the Texans to finish 0-3 in order to win the division. So yeah, the odds aren’t good.
Those odds look even worse when looking at the remaining strength of schedule for the three AFC South teams still alive. The Colts’ remaining opponents are a combined 19-20 this year (.487), and they face two teams with winning records (the Vikings and Raiders) plus the Jaguars. The Titans’ remaining opponents are a combined 19-20 as well (.487), and they also face two teams with winning records (the Chiefs and the Texans) plus the Jaguars. And the Texans’ remaining opponents are a combined 14-24-1 (.368), and they face one team with a winning record (the Titans) plus the Jaguars and Bengals. So not only are the Texans in the best position in the standings, they also have the easiest remaining schedule of the three teams.
So in order for the Colts to win the division, they’ll need a ton of help - in addition to them taking care of their own business and winning their games. The odds of both of those combining to happen over the final three weeks are incredibly unlikely.
Here’s how unlikely the Colts’ playoff odds look and how much they’ve dropped this afternoon, per ESPN:
To sum it all up: the Colts will very likely be watching the playoffs from home just like the rest of us, and based on the way they’ve played that’s exactly what they deserve.