After seven games, I think most believe it's safe to assume that the Houston Texans will win the AFC South and are a lock to make the playoffs. Currently the Texans are 2 1/2 games ahead of the Colts and three games ahead of the Titans; neither team looks capable of seriously challenging the Texans for the division crown. For most, the focus has turned to the Texans chances of finishing the season with the best record in the AFC and locking up home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Outside of what they hope was just a fluke blowout loss to Green Bay, the Texans have won their other three home games by an average of 24.6 points. Only having to win two home games to reach the Super Bowl would be a huge advantage for the Texans and easily make them the favorite heading into the playoffs.
What should we expect their record to be at the end of the season? What challenges remain for the other top contenders in the AFC? Here's a look at the Texans chances at securing the top seed in the AFC playoffs.
Predicted Record: 13-3
I think the Texans will lose their road games to the Bears and Patriots, but if they play their 'A' game, they should win every other remaining game on the schedule. Anything less than 12 wins at this point would be a huge disappointment.
Predicted Record: 11-5
I think the Patriots will split their division road games against the Jets and Dolphins, and home games with the Texans and 49ers. Their issues on the offensive line and in the secondary will likely keep them from passing the Texans. They're a good team, but there's a reason why they've already lost three games and almost lost to the Jets. To catch the Texans, assuming the Texans finish 13-3 as I predicted, the Patriots would have to win all of their remaining games. If they also finish 13-3, they would own the top seed with the tiebreaker over Houston. They're a threat, but the Texans are in a strong position with a two game lead.
Predicted Record: 11-5
I don't think the Ravens will completely fall apart, but I do think their loss last week is a sign of things to come. They're older, they're banged up, and I think they'll struggle more than we're used to seeing. They don't run the ball as much, Joe Flacco struggles on the road, and their defense can't stop anyone right now. I believe they'll lose three of these five games; at Steelers, at Chargers, at Redskins, Broncos, Giants. They'll still make the playoffs, but despite currently having the second best record in the AFC, I don't think they're a threat to the Texans for home field advantage.
No other team in the AFC has a winning record. All other teams in the AFC are at least three games behind the Texans. At this point the race for the top seed in the AFC is down to three teams; it's likely that the road to the Super Bowl will go through Houston.