NFL Playoffs: A Win Will Clinch the #1 Seed in the AFC

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into the week 17 regular season finale against the Indianapolis Colts, the Houston Texans playoff seeding will depend on the outcome of the game. The Texans are 12-3 and have clinched the AFC South with a 29-17 victory over the Colts in week 15. The Colts are 10-5 and also headed to the postseason as a wild card, following a week 16 20-13 road win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Indianapolis is locked into the fifth seed, but Houston can finish anywhere from first to third based upon what happens Sunday. Despite the loss to the Minnesota Vikings this past Sunday, Houston controls its own destiny. The easiest scenario is of course for the Texans to beat the Colts in Indianapolis for the first time ever and lock up the top seed and home-field advantage throughout the AFC Playoffs. If they lose on Sunday, things will get interesting, as they would have to revert to scoreboard watching in the late games to find out where they land.

That being said, it would behoove them to win and not have to pay attention to what goes on in the late games. Here are all of the playoff scenarios that could occur for the Texans on Sunday

1. Win – A second victory in three weeks over the Colts will improve the Texans to 13-3 and clinch the #1 seed, a first round bye, and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. The Denver Broncos can also finish 13-3, but Houston owns the tie-breaker over the Broncos virtue of a 31-25 week 3 victory in Denver.

2. Lose – A loss to the Colts could not only cost the Texans home-field advantage, but they would risk the danger of falling to the #3 seed and losing a first round bye as well. They would drop to 12-4 with a loss, and should they finish with an identical record as the New England Patriots, would fall behind them due to a 42-14 week 14 loss in New England. Should they lose, here are the combinations that will determine their seed

- Texans loss, Broncos loss, Patriots loss = Texans #1 seed and home-field advantage

- Texans loss, Broncos win, Patriots loss = Texans #2 seed and first round bye

- Texans loss, Broncos loss, Patriots win = Texans #2 seed and first round bye

- Texans loss, Broncos win, Patriots win = Texans #3 seed and host the Cincinnati Bengals in first round

Those are all of the playoff possibilities for Houston. All of the scenarios in the second section will be rendered moot if they take care of business. The Broncos host the Chiefs and the Patriots host the Miami Dolphins in afternoon kickoffs Sunday. If the Texans lose, barring upsets in those two games, they would fall to the #3 spot and a rematch of last year’s wild card match-up with the Bengals. A win in week 17 is of utmost importance.


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