Ahead by 17 points over the Pittsburgh Steelers with 30 minutes to play this past Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts looked to be one step closer to locking up a spot in the NFL playoffs heading into the final week of the regular season.
And then everything fell apart as the Colts blew a 24-7 lead, lost the game, and now head into their Week 17 matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars on the outside looking in.
However, Indianapolis still has a shot to get into the postseason as a wild-card team for the second time in three seasons and also still has a chance to win the AFC South for the first time since 2014. It’s just that they’ll need some help to make these things happen.
The Indianapolis Colts HAVE to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars to have a chance at the NFL playoffs
For some teams still riding that NFL playoff bubble heading into Week 17, the formula is quite simple. Win and you’re in. That is not the case for the Indianapolis Colts, although a victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars is an absolute must. If by some miracle Indianapolis loses to Jacksonville, there is absolutely zero chance that they make the postseason regardless of what happens in any other game that takes place throughout the day.
Now, while a win over the Jaguars seems like a mere formality given the fact that Jacksonville is 1-14, let’s not forget who that lone victory came against. Yep, you guessed it, the Indianapolis Colts. All the way back in Week 1, Gardner Minshew completed 19 of 20 passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Jags to a 27-20 victory. Philip Rivers threw for 363 yards and a touchdown in the loss but also threw two interceptions.
Both teams are obviously much different now than they were then but the “any given Sunday” phrase certainly comes to mind here. Hey, the Jets are on a two-game winning streak so anything is possible, right?
How the Indianapolis Colts win the AFC South
So here’s what needs to happen for the Indianapolis Colts to win the AFC South.
Both the Colts and Tennessee Titans, who had a chance to clinch the division this past Sunday but got blown out by the Green Bay Packers on a snowy night at Lambeau Field, come into Week 17 with 10-5 records. Now, if the Titans win on the road against the Houston Texans, who are 4-11, they win the AFC South as they hold the tiebreaker over Indianapolis.
However, if the Colts beat the Jaguars and the Texans beat or tie the Titans, Indianapolis wins the division. Back in Week 6, Tennessee won a 42-36 overtime thriller over Houston in Nashville.
If the Colts tie the Jags, they would still need the Titans to lose.
If Indy doesn’t win the AFC South, here’s how they still get into the NFL playoffs
So let’s say that both the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans win, which, as we just explained, gives Tennessee the AFC South title. So what would need to happen then for the Colts to get in?
If the Colts beat the Jaguars, they would need a loss or tie from the Baltimore Ravens against the Cincinnati Bengals, a loss or tie from the Cleveland Browns against the Pittsburgh Steelers, or a loss or tie from the Miami Dolphins against the Buffalo Bills.
If the Colts tie the Jaguars, they would need the Ravens, Browns, or Dolphins to lose outright.
Stats and scores courtesy of Pro Football Reference