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Potential Houston Texans playoff scenarios and opponents

Houston, the AFC South Champs or AFC Snubs?

Tennessee Titans v Houston Texans Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

C.J. Stroud put it best: “the time is now.” He declared that “It’s not next year. It’s not the year after that. It’s right now. We have the opportunity to control our own destiny so I’m excited to do that.”

On the eve of their Week 18 battle with AFC South rival and contender Indianapolis Colts, the Houston Texans have everything to play for. The Texans have the opportunity to win the AFC South for the first time since 2019. They currently sit in a three-way tie for the top spot in the division and a guaranteed home game in the AFC Wild Card.

Simply put, win and they’re in. Lose and it gets complicated.

In total, five teams (Houston, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo) are vying for three remaining playoff spots. As it stands, only the first and fifth seeds are secured. Those are the top spot in the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens (13-3) and the first wild card team the Cleveland Browns (11-5). Miami (11-5) can end up anywhere from second to sixth. Cleveland unfortunately sits in the same AFC North as Baltimore and can aim no higher than fifth.

Houston, on the other hand, has the chance to leap into the third spot with a win and a lot of help. They can also sneak in as low as the seventh seed.

There’s plenty of variables, chaos, and situations to be aware of heading into the final weekend of the 2024 NFL season

Houston secures the fourth seed IF:

To win the division, Houston must win and the Jags lose as they possess the better in-division record at 5-1. Houston would go on to play the Cleveland Browns, the best AFC Wild Card team in Houston. This game undoubtedly would get the morning spot on Saturday (usually the worst-rated game of the weekend).

Houston secures the sixth seed IF:

In this scenario, Jacksonville wins the AFC South at 10-7; beating Houston based on best win percentage in division games. Texans secure the sixth seed spot over Buffalo due to best win percentage in conference games. As the sixth seed, Houston would play Kansas City in the first round at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.

Houston secures the seventh seed IF:

  • Houston Texans win AND
  • Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Tennessee Titans
  • Buffalo Bills beat the Miami Dolphins

Houston falls to the seventh seed when Buffalo defeats Miami. Both teams are in the AFC East, and would have the same record. The only difference being Buffalo won both of its matchups against Miami this season, declaring them the winner of their division. Houston would have to face Buffalo in New York for what could be a raining and sub 40-degree game at kickoff.

To summarize, win and we’re in. We’re rooting against Jacksonville. Houston will either face Cleveland at home, Kansas City away, or Buffalo away.

If you ask me, this is how the AFC will play out:

  • Pittsburgh Steelers beat a backup-led Baltimore Ravens
  • Jacksonville barely beats Tennessee, securing the AFC South
  • Kansas City dominates a failing Los Angeles Chargers
  • Buffalo beats Miami, winning the AFC East and the second seed
  • AND Houston does beat Indianapolis in a grudge match

Then, Houston would be the seventh seed (the worst best-case scenario) and play the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo, NY.