Colts Can Clinch AFC Playoff Spot With Win Over Las Vegas Raiders In Week 17

The Colts (9-6) are currently the AFC No. 5 seed with two games left in the 2021 season. 

The Colts' mission for Week 17 is clear: Win and in.

If the Colts (9-6) beat the Las Vegas Raiders (8-7) on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, they'll clinch a spot in the playoffs for the third time in four years under head coach Frank Reich.

Here's where the AFC playoff picture stands with two weeks left in the regular season (record; remaining opponents)

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4; @ Bengals, @ Broncos)
  2. Tennessee Titans (10-5; vs. Dolphins, @ Texans)
  3. Cincinnati Bengals (9-6; vs. Chiefs, @ Browns)
  4. Buffalo Bills (9-6; vs. Falcons, vs. Jets)
  5. Indianapolis Colts (9-6; vs. Raiders, @ Jaguars)
  6. New England Patriots (9-6; vs. Jaguars, @ Dolphins)
  7. Miami Dolphins (8-7; @ Titans, vs. Patriots)
  8. Baltimore Ravens (8-7; vs. Rams, vs. Steelers)
  9. Los Angeles Chargers (8-7; vs. Broncos, @ Raiders)
  10. Las Vegas Raiders (8-7; @ Colts, vs. Chargers)
  11. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7-1; vs. Browns, @ Ravens)
  12. Cleveland Browns (7-8; @ Steelers, vs. Bengals)
  13. Denver Broncos (7-8; @ Chargers, vs. Chiefs)

So if the playoff started today, the Colts would return to Buffalo to face the Bills in the wild card round.

The Colts own head-to-head tiebreakers over the Bills, Patriots and Dolphins, and if they beat the Raiders, they'd have it over Las Vegas, too. The only teams the Colts don't have head-to-head tiebreaker advantages against are the Titans and Ravens.

If head-to-head tiebreakers don't apply (which is the case if three or more wild card teams are tied with the same record), the next tiebreaker is AFC record – which, if the Colts win out, they would have over every other team in the wild card chase. The Bengals and Patriots are 7-3 in AFC play, but if those teams win out and the Colts do too, they'd have the head-to-head tiebreaker over New England and Cincinnati would win the AFC North.

Both FiveThirtyEight and Football Outsiders have the Colts with a 97 percent chance of making the playoffs. Winning the AFC South became less likely after the Titans topped the 49ers last week; FiveThirtyEight gives the Colts an 11 percent chance to win the division while Football Outsiders has it at 15 percent.

For the Colts to win the AFC South, they'd need to beat the Raiders and Jaguars and have the Titans lose to the Dolphins and Texans.

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