The Houston Texans lost to the Denver Broncos 38-24 last week. They were down 38-3 and scored 21 meaningless goodwill points at the end so Bill O’Brien could do what he loves to do in a blowout—make things look better than they were. We know the truth. Oh, we know. This loss hurt Houston’s playoff odds, putting them in a tie in with Tennessee for first place in the AFC South and also, because they played so poorly, the models don’t like their chances to even qualify for the 2019 NFL Playoffs as much.
Before we get to that, Professional Football Writer Bill Barnwell had the following to say:
Chance to make the playoffs: 86.3%
Projected playoff matchup: vs. Bills
The Texans don’t yet have the AFC South locked up, in part because they still have two games to go against the Titans. Bill O’Brien’s team will win the South if they sweep the Titans and lose it if they get swept. If they split, The Upshot’s model gives the Texans a 77% chance of winning the division. They would either need to beat the Buccaneers or have the Saints beat the Titans. The Colts also could win the division if their two rivals split the home-and-home, both the Buccaneers and Saints prevail in Week 16, and the Colts win out against the Saints, Panthers and Jaguars.
The Texans would likely be in line for a wild-card spot if they miss out on the division. They have virtually no hope of earning a first-round bye, with FPI pegging their chances at 0.2%. They could move up from the 4-seed to the 3-seed if they win out and the Chiefs slip up, but FPI thinks there’s a 61% chance they finish as the No. 4 seed.
According to Football Outsiders, Houston’s loss hurt their playoff chances by 21.2% with that loss to Denver. They now have a 66.5% chance to make the playoffs and a 43.6% chance to win the division. Tennessee has a 70.2% chance to make the postseason, and a 54.6% chance to win the division.
Both teams are tied at 8-5. The first tiebreaker is head-to-head record. The next tiebreaker is divisional record. Houston is 3-1 in the division, while the Titans are 2-2. If either team sweeps this matchup. they’ll win the division. If Houston splits and beats Tampa Bay next week, they’ll win the division because of this slight advantage. Additionally, the Texans play the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay in Week 16, while the Titans are stuck playing the Saints in New Orleans. Although the Titans are playing better than Houston, the Texans are in a better spot at the moment.
This is what is at stake this week. Whatever happens, hopefully it doesn’t end with Houston playing the Bills in the first week of the NFL Playoffs. I don’t think my heart can take it.
Houston heads to Nashville for a 12 p.m. CST kickoff this Sunday.