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Playoff Picture: Colts can take AFC South lead as soon as week 14

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NFL: Miami Dolphins at Indianapolis Colts Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

There are some interesting playoff scenarios looming as the end of the season draws nearer. Each week will be critical for the Colts if they want to make their way into the wildcard, or even better, retake the division crown that they held for so long. First, let’s take a look at how the playoff picture breaks down as it stands:

AFC Playoff Picture

1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2)

2. New England Patriots (8-3) can clinch a division win by winning their next two games.

3. Houston Texans (8-3)

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3-1)

5. Los Angeles Chargers (8-3)

6. Baltimore Ravens (6-5)

If the season ended today, these would be the teams headed to the playoffs. The outcomes this week could change things quite a bit. First there are the eliminations from contention.

You’ll notice that one of those teams, the Jacksonville Jaguars, is playing the Colts this week. That’s right, the Colts can statistically eliminate the Jaguars from the playoffs with a win Sunday. If we are being serious, the Jaguars have essentially been eliminated for awhile, so this is really just a formality.

Losses by the Ravens, Chargers, and Broncos would all be really helpful in addition to a Colts win, because they would enable the Colts to get a firmer hold on a possible wild card spot.

However it is the Browns vs Texans game that should hold the attention of Colts fans. If the Texans were to drop their game to the Browns and the Colts do what they should and beat the Jaguars, it would mean that a win by the Colts in Houston in week 14 would give them the lead in the AFC South by way of a better divisional record. With Houston as their only truly dangerous opponent left on the schedule, that would leave the Colts in the drivers’ seat to take the AFC South title back to Indianapolis where it belongs.

One team I didn’t mention that is sort of hanging around the periphery here is the Tennessee Titans. I am conflicted on how to root with regard to the Titans. They face the Jets at home, and while they aren’t a major threat to the Colts in terms of a wild card spot at the moment, if they were to go on a run, they could become one.

Having said that, if they lose to the Jets, it means the Jets get a win, and therefore, the second round pick we get from them is a bit higher. All things considered, neither is likely that big a deal, but I’d prefer the Titans didn’t hang around too close as we have to play them in week 17.

It is exciting to be in the mix for a playoff spot and it would be even more exciting to take back control of the division. That starts with going to Jacksonville and getting a win, and ends with becoming surrogate Browns fans for an afternoon in the hopes they can put a beating on the Texans and give a bit more weight to next week’s contest in Houston.