While the Texans do not know who their starting quarterback will be in their final two regular season games, they know one thing. If they have any chance to make the playoffs, they must win both of their remaining games. They host Baltimore in week 16 and host Jacksonville in the finale the following week.
The Ravens could clinch a playoff berth with a win over Houston (along with a few other desired results) and it also marks the return of former Texans head coach Gary Kubiak. Pittsburgh and Cincinnati could also clinch playoff berths this weekend, but we’ll look at how things must shake out for Houston to grab a wild card berth. For all week 16 playoff clinching scenarios, click here.
The gist of everything to shake Houston’s way is that they need no more than one wild card team to have 10 wins, since they can no longer reach ten wins. Take a look at this playoff chart heading into week 16 that includes nine teams battling for the remaining three AFC playoff berths. The Patriots, Broncos and Colts have already clinched their respective divisions.
The Texas would win all multi-team tiebreakers at 9-7. Would win win all single-team tiebreakers with every team except Pittsburgh who beat them head-to-head. BUT there are no scenarios that would leave Houston and Pittsburgh tied for the final wild card spot as the only 9-7 teams.
If Houston finishes 9-7 and only one team or none from the following group reach 10 wins, then Houston will make the playoffs.
San Diego (8-6)
Kansas City (8-6)
San Diego and Kansas City cannot both reach 10 wins since they face each other in week 17, but a tie in that game would prevent the Texans from catching them unless both lost their week 16 games.
San Diego will be underdogs in both of their games.
Kansas City will be underdogs in week 16 at Pittsburgh.
Buffalo is favored at 2-12 Oakland in week 16, but are at New England in week 17. The Patriots will not clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs in week 16 unless they win and Denver loses at Cincinnati. So the Patriots could still have something significant to gain with a win over Buffalo in week 17.
If Pittsburgh beats Kansas City in week 16 (and they are favored to do so in Pittsburgh), and Baltimore beats Cleveland in week 17 in Baltimore and they will be heavily favored to do so, the Texans would be eliminated.
If Baltimore beats Cleveland in week 17 to reach 10 wins, then Houston needs Buffalo and Pittsburgh to finish with only 9 wins. Pittsburgh would need to lose both of their games, which will be in Pittsburgh and they will be favored in both.
If Pittsburgh does lose both games, that would include a loss to Kansas City in week 16. Kansas City would then need to lose in week 17 at home to San Diego. Although if Kansas City loses to San Diego in week 17, then Houston would need San Diego to have already lost at San Francisco in week 16 to keep them below 10 wins.