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AFC Playoff Picture: Colts Need a Win in Week 17 and Outside Help; No Longer Control Their Own Destiny

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the Indianapolis Colts suffering a devastating loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, the franchise still has a decent chance to make the playoffs for the second time in the past three seasons.

However, the Colts (10-5) no longer control their own destiny, as Indianapolis will need a win at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-14) next week, AND, outside help—meaning just one of the following AFC teams (denoted in bold) has to lose during the NFL’s Week 17 matchups respectively:

  • Miami Dolphins (10-5) at Buffalo Bills (11-3)
  • Baltimore Ravens (10-5) at Cincinnati Bengals (4-10)
  • Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3) at Cleveland Browns (10-5)
  • Tennessee Titans (10-5) at Houston Texans (4-11) [which would win the AFC South for the Colts]

While the Colts had a crushing loss on Sunday, Indianapolis’ playoff hopes were helped by the fact that both the Cleveland Browns lost to the New York Jets, and the Green Bay Packers took care of the Tennessee Titans on Sunday Night Football—giving Indianapolis more possible ways to potentially secure a postseason berth.

Still, it’s no guarantee that any of those NFL teams actually loses—especially with opposing teams like the Bills and Steelers having playoff spots locked up already, and the possibility looming of resting their starters in the season finale—with the AFC’s #2 seed not nearly as valuable in the new playoff format (and with limited fans) compared to the past.

There are a wide range of remaining possibilities for the Colts, which could include winning the division, becoming the #4 seed, and hosting a playoff game—should Indianapolis win and Tennessee lose in Week 17, as well as missing the playoffs entirely—if any of those bolded AFC teams don’t end up losing in the NFL’s season finale after all.

It’s shaping up to be a wild finish in Week 17 for the AFC playoff race and specifically the Colts, whose fans will be keeping their fingers crossed for a win and some much needed outside help to extend the team’s season.