Every week in December, the NFL distributes a master list of all the weekly playoff scenarios, detailing what has to happen for each team in the playoff race to clinch a spot in the postseason. But this year, the Texans are so far ahead of the pack in the AFC that the NFL has distributed the playoff scenarios in November.
The NFL confirmed today that the Texans could clinch a playoff berth if they beat the Lions on Thursday and enough other AFC playoff contenders lose this week. If the Texans beat the Lions, the Texans need one of these two combinations of losses or ties:
1) Titans loss or tie + Dolphins loss or tie + Jets loss or tie + Bengals loss + Chargers loss or tie OR
2) Titans loss or tie + Dolphins loss or tie + Jets loss or tie + Bengals loss or tie + Steelers loss.
In other words, assuming no ties, the Texans need to win, and they need the Dolphins, Jets and Bengals all to lose, and then they need either the Chargers or the Steelers to lose. That probably won’t happen, but it says something about the Texans (and says even more about the rest of the AFC) that we’re already talking about it, and it’s only November 20.