Colts playoff picture: How Indianapolis can clinch AFC wild-card spot in Week 18

7 months ago 81
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The Colts are trying to make the playoffs for the third time in four seasons under coach Frank Reich. Indianapolis is close to clinching another wild-card berth in the AFC, but it hasn't done so going into Week 18.

At 9-7, the Colts are the current No. 6 seed, behind the 10-5 Patriots and ahead of the 9-7 Chargers. Here's what they need to do to at least stay there and play in the tournament toward Super Bowl 56:

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NFL playoff picture: Colts' playoff chances

The Colts can get into the playoffs in one of three ways, the first being the most favorable.

1. Colts win in Week 18

The Colts are on the road against the Jaguars (2-14). They are more than two-touchdown favorites in the game. The Colts held on to beat the Jaguars 23-17 at home in Week 10. The Jaguars are coming off a 50-10 loss at New England, however. That loss at Indianapolis set off an eight-game losing streak. The Colts shouldn't worry about anything else barring a major upset.

2. The Chargers lose in Week 18 while the Steelers tie the Ravens

In the event the Jaguars end the season with a big shocker, like beating the Bills at home in Week 9, the Colts will not like their chances after losing. Then they would need the Raiders, to whom they lost at home in Week 17, to win again Sunday night over the Chargers.

That's only one half of the equation, the more reasonable part for Indianapolis. The other is a highly unlikely event, Pittsburgh getting its second tie of the season at Baltimore.

MORE: Complete NFL playoff picture for Week 18

3. The Chargers lose in Week 18 while the Ravens and Dolphins win

Say the Colts lose and the Raiders win. This scenario is a lot more possible than a needed Steelers-Ravens tie. The Colts, with a loss to fall to 9-8, should hope the Ravens win as home favorites vs. the Steelers and Dolphins win as home underdogs vs. the Patriots.

The Colts would guarantee a playoff berth at 10-7, and with some help, could move ahead of either AFC East winner, the Bills or Patriots, given they beat both teams.

At 9-8, the Colts would get into the playoffs in a four-way tie with the Ravens, Chargers and Dolphins. They would win the conference-record tiebreaker over all three teams, because none of those teams can get to 7 AFC wins, which Indianapolis already has.

Although there's a fallback plan in play, the Colts don't want to leave their playoff chances to other teams.

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