Colts no longer fighting for just a wild card spot; AFC South is officially wide open

Following Week 15, the Indianapolis Colts have a chance to enter the playoffs as a wild card team or a division winner, with the AFC South title up for grabs.
Pittsburgh Steelers v Indianapolis Colts
Pittsburgh Steelers v Indianapolis Colts / Justin Casterline/GettyImages

For the majority of the second half of the season, it seemed like the AFC South was pretty much decided. The Jacksonville Jaguars had a nice lead on the division and they had already swept the Indianapolis Colts. That meant if Indy or the Houston Texans were going to make the postseason, it would come through a wild card spot. However, the race for the division the title is far from over.

The Jaguars have lost their last three games and are now currently in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC South with the Colts and the Texans. All three teams have an 8-6 record. Because of the league’s tie-breaking procedures, Jacksonville is still atop the three, Indy is second, and Houston is third. However, there are three weeks remaining in the NFL regular season, leaving time for one of these teams to get some separation.

Colts in a three-way tie for AFC South lead

The first tie-breaker is head-to-head with games played between the three teams. The Jaguars have already played both their division games against Houston and Indy, and has a 3-1 record. The Colts are currently 1-2, but will play the Texans in Week 18. Houston is also 1-2, so Jacksonville will have the tiebreaker, regardless of how the Week 18 game unfolds. That means the Colts will need an outright better record than the Jaguars to win the AFC South.

In addition to the Week 18 home game against the Texans, Indy’s remaining games are against the 6-8 Atlanta Falcons on the road and the 6-8 Las Vegas Raiders at home. Besides the Colts, Houston will host the 9-5 Cleveland Browns and the 5-9 Tennessee Titans. For the Jaguars, they’ll travel to take on the 7-7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the 5-9 Tennessee Titans, and host the 2-12 Carolina Panthers.

This NFL season has been wildly unpredictable, so there’s no telling what will happen in these final three weeks. The only certainty is that Indianapolis has a chance to win the AFC South, something that very few gave Indy a chance of doing entering the season. If the Colts can pull it off, it would be their first division title since 2014.