With just four weeks left in the 2016 regular season, there’s a three-way tie atop the AFC South.
The Houston Texans, Tennessee Titans, and Indianapolis Colts are all 6-6 on the year, as the Colts joined that group after embarassing the New York Jets 41-10 on Monday Night Football. So four more weeks, and a three-way tie.
That should make for an interesting final month, and that will begin in a huge way next weekend. The Colts host the Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium in a massive divisional matchup, and the winner of that game will take over the inside track to the playoffs. At this point the Texans own the tiebreaker over the Colts and the Colts own the tiebreaker over the Titans, but Indianapolis controls their own destiny. They couldn’t have had a better weekend in that regard, as they needed the Texans to lose (which they did) and they needed to beat the Jets (which they did), evening up the records and forcing next week’s game to become a battle for first place.
If the Colts can run the table and win their next four, they’ll be in the playoffs. Odds are they won’t do that, but odds are the other AFC South teams will stumble at some point too. And the argument can be made that the Colts are peaking at the right time, as they’ve won their last three games with Andrew Luck under center - at Lambeau Field against the Packers, at home against the Titans, and then on the road in primetime against the Jets - and they have to hope that’s the case.
After the game, Luck was interviewed by ESPN and said that the team’s mindset right now is, “one game playoffs every weekend.” That’s what it has to be because of how the team didn’t give themselves much margin for error, but next week’s game stands out among the rest. For now, the AFC South has a three-way tie for first place. By next week, the winner of the Colts vs. Texans battle will have the advantage in the division race with just a few weeks to go.