Yes, the Houston Texans still have a pulse in the playoff race. Contrary to popular belief, the Texans could actually lose a game and still get in.
For those hopeful fans that refuse to think about the off-season until it's mathematically impossible, let's break down scenarios, after the jump, that have Houston heading to their first-ever playoff birth by winning its first-ever AFC South championship.
The remaining schedules of each team...
Jacksonville: OAK, @IND, WAS, @HOU
Indianapolis: @TEN, JAX, @OAK, TEN
Houston: BAL, @TEN, @DEN, JAX
Tennessee: IND, HOU, @KC, @IND
For Houston to win the AFC South at 9-7...
The Texans must win all four remaining games AND Indianapolis loses a game AND Jacksonville loses a game plus the week 17 game at Houston.
For Houston to win the AFC South at 8-8...
Houston wins their two division games and loses either the Baltimore or Denver game AND Jacksonville drops any three of their last four to finish 8-8 while Indianapolis must lose any two games to avoid a three-team tiebreaker that Jacksonville would win OR Jacksonville loses all four while Indianapolis finishes 8-8 and Houston would win the tiebreaker.
For Houston to win the AFC South at 7-9...
Houston wins their two division games and drops the games to Baltimore and Denver AND Jacksonville loses all four games AND Indianapolis loses every other game except the Jacksonville one AND Tennessee sweeps Indianapolis and drops their games to Houston and Kansas City.
The Texans can still earn a wild card spot, but it would take a few teams collapsing in a major way.
For those wondering how Tennessee factors into Houston's playoff picture, the Texans need to sweep Bud Adams' boys under any scenario to make the playoffs. Due to that, the Texans can be eliminated no earlier than week 15. Until then, the tiny playoff hopes live on...if you're a believer in miracles.