The Houston Texans lost their lead for the number one seed in the AFC Playoffs - as well as home field advantage - with a loss to the Panthers on Sunday, pushing them to the third seed and opening play during the Wild Card weekend at home hosting the New York Jets.
However, the Texans can still climb back to the overall top spot, or at least gain a bye week. The easiest thing to do if you're a Houston fan? Cheer against the Steelers and Patriots. And while losing never helps, losing to a non-AFC team like the Panthers hurts the least in terms of tie-breaking. Here's the details:
- Houston (10-4) needs to win out the remainder of their schedule - at Indianapolis (1-13) and vs. Tennessee (7-7) to finish 12-4 overall and 10-2 in the AFC.
- The New England Patriots (11-3) would have to drop at least one of their final two games - vs. Miami (5-9) and Buffalo (5-9). If both Houston and New England finish 12-4, the Texans would win a tiebreaker by conference record (the Texans would finish 10-2, the Patriots 9-3).
- Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3) currently control their own destiny with three remaining games - at San Francisco (10-3), vs. St. Louis (2-12), at Cleveland (4-10). If they win out, they win the AFC and home field. But the best the Steelers can finish is 9-3 in the AFC, whereas the Texans could still win out and go 10-2. As long as Pittsburgh drops one game over the next three and Houston wins out, the Texans would take a tiebreaker on conference record.