Do not adjust your computer or mobile screens. This is a Houston Texans blog, and we are talking about clinching a playoff spot in November. Back in the Dom Capers/Charley Casserly era and the middling mediocrity of 8-8 after 8-8 season, did you ever think you would arrive at the day when your Houston Texans would be potentially set up to be the first team in the league to clinch a playoff berth?
Yes, I know the bigger goal is the AFC South Division championship, a first-round bye, and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, but officially clinching a playoff berth is a necessary step and will always be a noteworthy occurrence. How can the Texans clinch in Week 12? Let's do a bit of simple number-crunching.
CURRENT AFC STANDINGS
AFC South leading Houston Texans - 9-1
AFC North leading Baltimore Ravens - 8-2
AFC East leading New England Patriots - 7-3
AFC West leading Denver Broncos - 7-3
Indianapolis Colts - 6-4
Pittsburgh Steelers - 6-4
Still in the hunt...
Cincinnati Bengals - 5-5
San Diego Chargers - 4-6
Tennessee Titans - 4-6
New York Jets - 4-6
Buffalo Bills 4-6
Miami Dolphins 4-6
With a Texans victory over Detroit on Thanksgiving, Houston will move to 10-1 on the season. Combined with their head-to-head tiebreakers over New York, Buffalo, and Miami, the Texans would be guaranteed to finish ahead of the East trio even if those teams won out and Houston lost out.
Losses by San Diego and Tennessee, to Baltimore and Henne-powered Jacksonville, would push both teams to seven losses. Even if they won out and Houston lost out, they could not finish ahead of Houston in the AFC standings. We are left with only seventh-place Cincinnati.
If Cincinnati loses to Oakland, the Bengals would drop to 5-6. Despite the fact that both teams could finish at 10-6, the Texans would have the tiebreaker in conference record, since they will not play head-to-head. In this specific scenario, Houston's conference record would be 8-4 to Cincinnati's 6-6, and the Bengals could not finish ahead of the Texans. You know what that means, right?
In this scenario (HOU win over DET, BAL win over SD, JAX win over TEN, and OAK win over CIN), the Texans could end up no worse than sixth in the AFC standings and would become the first team to clinch a berth to this season's playoffs.
Are there bigger goals than a simple wild card berth? Yes. Would we rather see San Diego trip up Baltimore? Most likely. Would it still feel nice to clinch a playoff berth with five weeks to spare? Absofreakinlutely.
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