To get an idea of just how bad the Colts’ playoff chances are, let’s put things into perspective: there’s a very plausible scenario in which the Colts are eliminated next weekend, with two weeks still left in the season.
The Colts fell to 6-7 with yesterday’s crushing loss to the Texans, meaning the best they can finish is 9-7 (and honestly, who thinks this team will even be able to string together those three wins?). The Texans and the Titans, meanwhile, are tied atop the AFC South with 7-6 records, meaning that the worst they can do is have one of them finish 8-8 and the other 7-9 (since they play each other in week 17). But since both the Texans and Titans also play the Jaguars, they probably aren’t going to lose out for the rest of the season.
Especially important is the fact that the Texans took the tiebreaker advantage over the Colts on Sunday with their season sweep, meaning that the Colts can’t just finish with the same record as Houston, they’ve got to finish with a better record. So if the Texans finish 2-1, the Colts will be eliminated from the division race no matter what they do. If the Colts lose one game, they’ll need the Texans to drop all three in order to avoid elimination. So in other words, a Colts loss on Sunday coupled with a Texans win will officially end the Colts’ hopes of winning the worst division in football. Considering the Texans play the Jaguars (2-11) at home and the Colts play the Vikings (7-6) on the road, that’s a very realistic scenario.
And as some on Twitter pointed out to me, that would also eliminate the Colts from playoff contention, since the Colts aren’t getting a wild card berth. If the Colts do lose this weekend, the best they’d be able to finish is 8-8. The Oakland Raiders already have ten wins and the Denver Broncos already have eight wins (as do the Miami Dolphins), meaning that the best the Colts could do if they lose this Sunday is wind up tied the Broncos, and they lost head-to-head to Denver earlier this year so they wouldn’t be able to win that tiebreaker. In other words, a Colts’ loss this weekend would eliminate their chances of getting a wild card no matter what. And if that loss is coupled with a Texans win, it would also eliminate their chances of winning the division.
With three weeks to go in the season, for the Colts to even be this close to elimination isn’t a good thing, and it also means that it looks almost impossible for everything to go exactly right to get Indy to the playoffs. Even if they win out they’ll need help, so a loss this weekend to the Vikings would be crushing. Basically, yesterday’s loss was the deciding blow for Indy’s playoff hopes, as now everyone knows what’s coming - the only question is when they’ll be officially eliminated.