Texans still alive in wild card race

The Texans are still mathematically in the hunt for a wild-card playoff berth this season, as the NFL noted in a recent memo detailing playoff scenarios that was distributed around the league. The only team eliminated from contention in the AFC is the Cincinnati Bengals (1-9-1). The Detroit Lions (0-11) and St. Louis Rams (2-9) are the two NFC teams out of the playoff picture heading into Week 13.

At 4-7, the Texans are out of the AFC South race, which can be won by the Tennessee Titans (10-1) with a Titans win and an Indianapolis Colts (7-4) loss this week.

The Colts, Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots, all 7-4 teams, lead the running for the two wild-card spots. If teams from different divisions finish with equal records at the end of the season, the tiebreaker is decided first by head-to-head results, then conference records (here's a nice breakdown of official tiebreaking rules courtesy of CBSsports.com).

The Texans will need to go on a serious hot streak to have any chance at the postseason. Let's assume for these hypothetical scenarios that Houston can win its last five games to finish 9-7.

Since the Texans were swept by Indianapolis and lost to Baltimore, Houston would be left out of the playoffs if the Colts and Ravens both finish 9-7 as well.

That means that both the Colts and Ravens would have to lose four of their last five, or one will have to lose four of their last five and the Patriots also falter to a 9-7 record or worse. At that point, the Texans would have to win the in-conference-play tiebreaker over New England, which is currently 5-4 vs. AFC opponents. The Texans are 3-6 vs. the AFC.

Other teams still in the mix include the Miami Dolphins (6-5), Buffalo Bills (6-5), Jacksonville Jaguars (4-7) and San Diego Chargers (4-7).

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