We put some of our best people on a project this morning at AFC South blog headquarters and asked them to look at how the Titans could catch and pass the Texans to win the division.
Texans faithful: Before you fire off that nasty note to my mailbag, please know it’s a scenario I find unlikely. Consider this a post for Titans people on how their team can win the division more than a post about how your team can lose it.
Here is the most likely way things could play out to give the Titans a chance.
If the Titans go 4-1 the rest of the way, winning at Buffalo, at Indianapolis, against Jacksonville and at Houston while losing to New Orleans ...
If the Texans go 2-3 the rest of the way, beating Carolina and winning at Indianapolis while losing to Atlanta, at Cincinnati and to Tennessee ...
Both teams would finish 10-6.
But Houston would still win the division. The head-to-head series would be a split, and the Texans 5-1 division record would trump the Titans’ 4-2.
So the Titans need to see one of two things happen.
They’ve got to finish with a better overall record than the Texans, which would require Houston to go 2-3 while the Titans go 5-0 or Houston to go 1-4 while the Titans go 4-1.
They need the Texans to wind up at 10-6 with one of their three remaining losses coming at Indianapolis. (Highly improbable, I know, but play along with the scenario, please) while the Titans finish 10-6 with their one remaining loss coming outside the AFC South.
In either scenario ...
Houston and Tennessee would finish tied at 10-6 and tied in the division at 4-2.
The second tiebreaker is record against common opponents, both would be at 7-5.
The third tiebreaker is conference record, and the Titans would be 8-4 with the Texans at 7-5.
While we know anything can happen, I certainly can’t see Houston losing to the Colts, a result the Titans really need to have a chance to win the division.
If Tennessee gets hot and finished 4-1, an 8-4 conference record could serve them well in a wild-card tiebreaker -- if a 10-6 record is good enough to get into a tie-breaking scenario. They’ve lost to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, and would lose out to either in a tie based on those head-to-head results.
They need a lot of help already.
I invite you to try to sort it out with our Playoff Machine, a hard-to-believe page that lets you punch in results to see how things could sort out.