The Houston Texans are on the outside looking in after 15 games this season. While the Texans still being in play this late in the season is nothing less than a herculean feat of coaching, drafting, and culture, they would be remiss to miss out on the playoffs with the season they’ve had.
Houston sits in the eight seed in the AFC with the top seven teams making it to the playoffs. They have the same record (8-7) as AFC South rival Indianapolis Colts and a pair of AFC North teams, the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers. They play at home against the Tennessee Titans this Sunday and face the Colts in Indianapolis in Week 18.
According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, Houston has a 39% chance to make the playoffs.
Houston is the eighth team in the AFC due to their win over the Steelers in a head-to-head matchup. Houston then is ahead of the Bengals as the Steelers have the head-to-head lead over the Bengals themselves.
When looking at the New York Times Interactive Playoff Simulator, Houston possesses a 34% chance to keep their season going.
The NYT Simulator allows users to pick the outcome of individual games and evaluate how that affects the probability a team will make the playoff.
With no other game inputs, IF Houston beats the Titans but loses to the Colts, there’s an 11% chance to make the playoffs. IF Houston loses to the Titans but beats the Colts, there chances go up to 30%. And IF they win both, NYT predicts there’s a 100% chance to make the playoffs with a 60% chance to host a Wild Card game.
The one of the biggest outside game is the Panthers at the Jaguars. The Panthers victory would increase the Texans chances by 10%. Additionally, the Week 18 matchup between the Jaguars and the Titans has huge implications. Essentially, a Jaguars loss, which would make it five of the last six games for the Jags, would help vault Houston into the playoffs.
vs. Carolina Panthers (2-13)
at Tennessee Titans (5-10)
vs. Las Vegas Raiders (7-8)
vs. Houston Texans (8-7)
Houston winning out all but guarantees them a spot in the playoffs. If the Texans wins out and the Jags lose either of their games, Houston will host a playoff game at NRG. One loss to either AFC South rival gives them an outside chance (11%-30%) to make it in. A Texans victory over the Colts all but eliminates the Colts from the playoff picture
Texans may not be in at the moment, but they control their own destiny. The mantra “win and you’re in” stands true for the Texans first trip to the playoffs since 2019.