Despite Houston’s big win over New England Sunday night, very little changed for their current playoff positioning. Houston began the week with the #3 seed in the AFC and finished the week still at #3.
Here’s the current outlook on the AFC Playoff standings:
- Baltimore Ravens (10-2) *holds tiebreaker over NE with Week 9 win
- New England Patriots (10-2)
- Houston Texans (8-4) *holds tiebreaker over KC with Week 6 win
- Kansas City Chiefs (8-4)
- Buffalo Bills (9-3)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) *holds tiebreaker over TEN with conference record
- Tennessee Titans (7-5)
- Oakland Raiders (6-6) *holds tiebreaker over IND with Week 4 win
- Indianapolis Colts (6-6)
- Cleveland Browns (5-7)
If the NFL Playoffs were to begin today, the Texans would host the 7-5 Steelers on Wild Card Weekend. The Steelers have won six of their last seven games and head to Arizona this weekend for a match-up with the Cardinals. After that, they face the Bills, Jets and Ravens; none of those are surefire wins, even the Jets.
The Texans are still in pursuit of a first-round bye, but they will need to the Patriots to lose two games down the stretch to make it happen. New England plays the Chiefs, Bengals, Bills and Dolphins to close out the season. With the Pats getting likely wins over the Bengals and Dolphins, the Texans will probably have to win out if they want a shot at a bye. The good news for the Texans is that they now hold the eventual tiebreaker over the Patriots and Chiefs if it ever got to that point. The Texans hold the tiebreaker over the Chiefs by virtue of their Week 6 win in Kansas City.
On the flip side, the Texans are not the only team in their division in control of their own destiny. The 7-5 Titans, who currently sit in the #7 seed in the AFC, racked up a huge win against the Colts last weekend and could very well swoop in to snatch the division from the Texans. Winners of three straight, the Titans could make it four on Sunday with a game against the Raiders. The pair of games between the Titans and Texans in Weeks 15 and 17 could be the difference between winning the division and being in or out of the postseason.
However, for now, the Texans are focused on beating the Broncos at home Sunday. Any and all wins matter in December, and a win on Sunday would be win #9 for the Texans, which could be the magic number to qualify for this year’s playoffs in the AFC.