Because the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Baltimore Ravens and the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Denver Broncos yesterday on Christmas, the AFC playoff teams are now completely set, meaning that the only impact week 17 will have on the playoffs in the AFC is in regards to seeding.
The New England Patriots (13-2) are currently the top seed in the AFC and have won the AFC East and locked up a first round bye. There’s still a chance for the Oakland Raiders (12-3) to get that top spot, but though they’ve locked up a playoff spot they haven’t even secured their division title. The Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) are only a game back of the Raiders, and with Derek Carr out it could be an interesting final week to figure out which team is the AFC West champ and earns a first round bye and which team will be the wild card heading to Houston. Speaking of Houston, the Texans (9-6) have clinched the AFC South and will be the AFC’s fourth seed in the playoffs. The Pittsburgh Steelers (10-5) are the other division winner, as yesterday they clinched the AFC North and will be the three seed in the playoffs. In terms of the wild card, one spot will go to the AFC West team that doesn’t win the division (which right now would be the Chiefs), with the other spot going to the Miami Dolphins (10-5). All six teams - the Patriots, Raiders, Steelers, Texans, Chiefs, and Dolphins - have clinched playoff spots already, however.
The Colts, of course, were eliminated on Saturday when they couldn’t take care of their own business and beat the Raiders, as they lost 33-25. But it was clear all season long that they really had no business being a playoff team, and that notion is reinforced by the teams that actually did make the playoffs: the Colts didn’t beat a single one of them this year. In fact, they were 0-5 against the AFC playoff teams this year, and some of those games were some of their ugliest performances. They lost to the Texans twice, once blowing a huge lead in the final three minutes and the second time playing a terrible all-around football game at home in the biggest spot of the season. They lost a home game to the Chiefs, 30-14, in a game that would also be in the running for their ugliest performance of the season. They lost a Thanksgiving night game to the Steelers 28-7, but believe it or not that might have been their best loss to an AFC playoff team this year because at least in that game they were competitive (more than the final score suggests) without Andrew Luck. But still, it was a 21 point loss in primetime at home. And then last week, the Colts lost to the Raiders 33-25, and that game wasn’t as close as the score suggests - the Colts played horrendous football early before making a late push after Derek Carr’s injury demoralized the Raiders team and fans. So in this rough year, the Colts lost every game they played to a team that would eventually represent the AFC in the postseason.
Depending on how the NFC finishes (there are still a few spots up for grabs), the Colts might have one win against a postseason team this year if the Green Bay Packers make it, but if the Detroit Lions make it that would also add another loss to a playoff team. Going back a couple of years, this is no new development for the Colts. Counting the teams currently guaranteed of a playoff spot this year, the Colts are 11-17 against playoff teams in the Chuck Pagano tenure (14-20 if you include actual playoff games). Over the last two years, the Colts are just 2-8 against teams that would represent the AFC in the postseason that year, and 0-1 against NFC playoff teams - though again, that could change depending on how week 17 finishes. But a 2-9 record against playoff teams the last two years? It’s no wonder why the Colts are sitting at home for the second-straight year, as they have no business being considered among playoff teams.
The AFC playoff teams are now set for this year with one week remaining, and the Colts aren’t among them. Looking at how the Colts have played against those teams this year, that’s no surprise.