There was a moment this afternoon where it looked like the AFC South would become incredibly interesting once again. With the Colts leading big and both the Texans and Titans trailing, it looked very possible that there would be a three-way tie atop the AFC South once again.
Instead, the Titans rallied to beat the Chiefs on a 53-yard field goal as time expired and the Texans took the lead on the Jaguars with a few minutes left and managed to hold on. That improved both teams to 8-6 on the season, remaining a game ahead of the Colts in the division race (Indy is 7-7). So despite the Colts’ huge 34-6 win this afternoon, their playoff chances got even worse today.
Basically, the Colts made up no ground today, but instead of three weeks remaining in the season there are now two weeks remaining. So the Colts will need to make up two games on the Texans in the final two weeks in order to win the division, and that’s not even taking into account the Titans either.
Here’s the Colts’ only desperate hope, as here’s their scenario of making the playoffs:
- The Colts win out, beating both the Raiders (10-3) and the Jaguars (2-11). If the Colts lose either, they’re done.
- The Texans lose out, dropping games to the Bengals (5-7-1) and the Titans (8-6). If the Texans win either, the Colts are done.
- The Titans lose next week to the Jaguars (2-11) but then beat the Texans (8-6) in week 17. If those two games don’t go that way, the Colts are done.
So the Colts will need these six games to go exactly their way if they hope to win the division, which is incredibly unlikely. That’s counting on both the Texans and Titans to lose games to teams with losing records next week with the Colts beating a team with a winning record, and then it’s counting on the Colts beating the Jaguars in week 17 and the Titans beating the Texans in week 17. Because of that, it’s incredibly unlikely that the Colts will make the playoffs - even more unlikely than it was entering the day, despite the Colts’ big win.
That’s what makes last week’s loss so crushing for the Colts: they don’t control their own destiny anymore. No matter how well they play - and they played perhaps their best game of the season today - they’re left simply watching the scoreboard, and if certain games don’t go their way, like today, there’s nothing they can do about it.