After four consecutive losses, the Texans face an uphill battle in their bid for the first playoff berth in franchise history. They'll need a lot of help to make the postseason, but the Texans are still mathetically alive in the AFC Wild Card race.
Here's a look at the AFC playoff picture through 13 weeks of the 2009 season. I'll update this list every Tuesday from here on out.
Who's in: Indianapolis Colts (12-0, clinched AFC South)
Who's out: Cleveland Browns (1-11, AFC North)
Division leaders: Colts, Cincinnati Bengals (9-3, AFC North), San Diego Chargers (9-3, AFC West), New England Patriots (7-5, AFC East)
Wild Card leaders: Denver Broncos (8-4, AFC West), Jacksonville Jaguars (7-5, AFC South)
In the hunt: Baltimore Ravens (6-6, AFC North), Miami Dolphins (6-6, AFC East), New York Jets (6-6, AFC East), Pittsburgh Steelers (6-6, AFC North), Tennessee Titans (5-7, AFC South), Houston Texans (5-7, AFC South)
Staying alive:Oakland Raiders (4-8, AFC West), Buffalo Bills (4-8, AFC East), Kansas City Chiefs (3-9, AFC West)
Tie-breakers: If the Texans finish the season with an identical record to a division opponent, the first four tie-breakers for the Wild Card are: 1. Head-to-head, 2. Division record, 3. Common games record, 4. Conference record. [The Texans would lose tiebreakers to both the Jaguars (because of head-to-head) and Titans (division record), so they must finish with a better record than both teams to beat them for a postseason spot.]
If the Texans finish the season with an identical record to a non-division AFC opponent, the first four tie-breakers for the Wild Card are: 1. Head-to-head (if applicable), 2. Conference record, 3. Common games record (minimum of four), 4. Strength of victory. [The Texans will not play the Broncos, Ravens or Steelers this season, but they do face the Patriots, Dolphins and Jets. They lost to the Jets, so they'll have to finish with a better record to beat them for a playoff spot. They have yet to play Miami and New England.]
For a full explanation of tie-breaking procedures, click here.
Upcoming matchups:The five remaining opponents of the Texans and each team ahead of the them in the Wild Card standings:
Broncos (8-4): @ IND, vs. OAK, @ PHI, vs. KC
Jaguars (7-5): vs. MIA, vs. IND, @ NE, @ CLE
Ravens (6-6): vs. DET, vs. CHI, @ PIT, @ OAK
Dolphins (6-6): @ JAC, @ TEN, vs. HOU, vs. PIT
Jets (6-6): @ TB, vs. ATL, @ IND, vs. CIN
Steelers (6-6): @ CLE, vs. GB, vs BAL, @ MIA
Titans (5-7): vs. STL, vs. MIA, vs. SD, @ SEA
Texans (5-7): vs. SEA, @ STL, @ MIA, vs. NE
Texans' next game: At home against the Seahawks. The Texans host the Seahawks at Reliant Stadium for the first time. In the lone previous meeting between the two teams, Seattle won 42-10 at Qwest Field on Sunday Night Football in 2005. Wide receiver Andre Johnson, cornerback Dunta Robinson and kicker Kris Brown are the only holdovers from that 2005 season who are still on the Texans' active roster. The Texans are riding a five-game home winning streak against NFC opponents since 2007. They're 3-1 all-time at home against the NFC West, including a 24-21 victory over the San Francisco 49ers this season in Week 7.
A handy reference:The full NFL standings, divided by conference, on NFL.com