After Texans’ Win Against Patriots, How Does AFC Playoff Picture Look?

Two of the last four games come against teams with losing records

Brandon Scott
December 03, 2019 - 1:17 pm

HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610) -- After the Texans’ 28-22 win against the New England Patriots on Sunday night, the AFC playoff picture changed a bit. 

The Texans are still the projected No. 3 seed as the leaders in the AFC South. They would have dropped to No. 4 due to the Kansas City Chiefs’ win over the Oakland Raiders, and tied with the Tennessee Titans for the AFC South lead after their win against the Indianapolis Colts.

But the Patriots dropped to the No. 2 seed, tying their record with the 10-2 Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens are now the No. 1 seed in the AFC since they hold the tiebreaker over the Patriots. 

There are still four games left in the season, which means the Texans’ place in the playoff picture remains fluid.

As head coach Bill O’Brien pointed after Sunday’s win, beating the Patriots means the Texans get to continue playing meaningful games.

Can the Texans move up in the standings and possibly secure a playoff bye? Can the season implode and they find themselves fighting for a Wild Card spot, or out of the playoff picture entirely?

Or does the No. 3 seed sound about right for this team?

Remaining schedule

Two of the last four games come against teams with losing records.

The Denver Broncos (4-8) are at NRG Stadium on Sunday. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-7) host the Texans on Dec. 21. 

Houston plays the currently 7-5 Tennessee Titans on Dec. 15 and two weeks later on Dec. 29. 

Obviously, it’s ideal for the Texans to win out. If they do, the Texans secure their sixth AFC South championship and finish no worse than third in the conference standings. 

The most important games are against the Titans, who could upend this playoff run by beating the Texans twice in three weeks and beating either the Raiders or Saints in these final weeks. 

If the Texans sweep the Titans, they win the division. Simple as that. 

They need some help from the Ravens and Patriots schedules get one of those top two seeds, but they’re in the playoffs. 

Tennessee would have seven losses and the Texans would finish with no more than six. 

If the Texans split the Titans games, beating those two teams with losing records will be all the more important and could save their playoff chances. 

Going 2-2 in this final stretch, but winning only one game against Tennessee would mean the Texans need the Titans to lose at least one of those games to Oakland or New Orleans to avoid a tiebreaker scenario.

What happens around the AFC

If there’s a larger takeaway from Sunday night, it could be the Texans exposing a Patriots team that has not beaten a lot of others expecting to make the playoffs. 

They play two of those to end the season. Fortunately for the Patriots, three of these last four games are at home and the only road trip is to the lowly Cincinnati Bengals.

The Patriots host the Chiefs on Sunday, then the Bills two weeks later after the Bengals game. They end the season hosting the Dolphins. 

New England narrowly beat Buffalo 16-10 back on Sept. 29. 

If the Patriots go 2-2 to end the season, and the Texans find a way to win out, put Houston in the mix for one of those top two seeds. 

Just don’t sleep on the Chiefs (also 8-4, but lose tiebreaker to Houston), who have the Patriots; Broncos at home; travel to Chicago; then host the Chargers to end the season. 

The Baltimore Ravens (10-2) travel to Buffalo this Sunday, then host the Jets before traveling to Cleveland and hosting the Steelers to end the season.

With Sunday’s last second field goal win against the San Francisco 49ers, the Ravens have shown they can beat anybody. They can win big, they can win ugly and don’t appear to be slowing down.

But the outside chance of them underperforming these last few weeks would give Houston hope of climbing up the standings. 

Again, the Texans have to keep winning.

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