Projecting Odds for Every Playoff Seed for the Houston Texans

Ben Layman@@houtexmajorinCorrespondent INovember 13, 2012

Projecting Odds for Every Playoff Seed for the Houston Texans

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    The Houston Texans sit atop the AFC after slugging through a hard-fought road win against the Chicago Bears in Week 10.

    The AFC's No. 1 seed won playing a style of football many thought they couldn't, and they did it on the the road against one of the hottest teams in the NFL.

    The win on Sunday Night Football positions the team comfortably in the No. 1 seed in the AFC heading into Week 11.

    The Texans will spend the next seven weeks fighting off the AFC's elite for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

    Houston's fans know Reliant Stadium can be one of the loudest buildings in the NFL—devastating for opposing offenses.

    The Texans likely prefer playing the likes of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in Reliant where those signal-callers will have to deal with the building's deafening playoff atmosphere.

    What are the chances the Texans finish as the top team in the AFC?

    Here's a look at the AFC playoff picture and the team's odds for every playoff seed.

No. 1 Seed

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    The Houston Texans are in the driver's seat for the top spot in the AFC. Along with the conference's best record, the AFC South's top dog also holds tiebreakers over other elite teams in the conference.

    Wins over the Denver Broncos (6-3) and Baltimore Ravens (7-2) essentially give the Texans an extra game up on these teams.

    Houston's biggest threat for the top seed in the AFC is the New England Patriots (6-3). The Patriots' remaining schedule is soft enough for them to make a serious push in the second half of the season. New England is playing better football than it did to start the season and head coach Bill Belichick does his best coaching this time of year.

    The head-to-head showdown between the Patriots and Texans Week 14 on Monday Night Football could ultimately decide the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

    Here's how each team's schedule looks for the rest of the season:

    Houston Texans: Jacksonville Jaguars, at Detroit Lions, at Tennessee Titans, at New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings, at Indianapolis Colts

    New England Patriots: Indianapolis Colts, at New York Jets, at Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans, San Francisco 49ers, at Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins

    Too much can be made of schedules this late in the year given how team's change throughout the season. Just look at how much the New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals' fates have dramatically changed in half of a season.

    More importantly, Houston's comfortable two game lead over New England makes it likely the Texans will have home-field advantage over the rest of the AFC throughout the playoffs. Barring serious injuries, the Texans should finish as the No. 1 seed.

    Texans' Odds: Probable

No. 2 Seed

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    Would it be tragic if the Houston Texans were to drop a spot and finish as the No. 2 seed? No, but given the clutter of flawed teams beneath them and the good position the Texans are already in, fans shouldn't expect it.

    The remaining three seeds in the AFC are difficult to project at this point. One thing is clear —the New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, and Baltimore Ravens have established themselves from the bottom of the AFC playoff picture along with the Houston Texans.

    The Baltimore Ravens currently hold the No. 2 spot, but the team hasn't done enough to convince outsiders they're a lock for one of the top spots in the conference.

    The New England Patriots have posted five wins in their last six games and appear to have righted the ship. The team's youth on defense is hitting its stride, and Tom Brady is capable of hanging 30-plus points on any team any week. Things are clicking for the Pats right now, and they're probably playing the best football in the AFC outside of the Houston Texans.

    It's difficult to say any team is a lock for the No. 2 seed in the AFC right now, but the Patriots get the nod for the way the team is playing now.

    Texans' Odds: Possible

    Projected No. 2 seed: New England Patriots (6-3)

No. 3 Seed

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    The Houston Texans' win over the Denver Broncos Week 3 could end up being the most important victory when the team looks back on its season. It was a statement win for the franchise, it came on the road against a long-time rival in Peyton Manning, and (most importantly) it set the team up comfortably going forward in the AFC.

    If the Texans were to somehow finish as a third seed, it would undoubtedly be viewed as a disappointment. The team has been gunning for a playoff bye and home-field advantage ever since the 5-0 start and anything less would be unsatisfactory.

    Expectations have changed dramatically for a franchise that has taken baby steps every year under head coach Gary Kubiak towards becoming one of the top teams in the conference.

    The Denver Broncos have established themselves as a serious threat in the AFC after stumbling through the early part of the their schedule. Peyton is a firing on all cylinders, and Denver's defense is capable of playing at just as high of a level as its offense.

    There's no question it would be a different game if the Texans and Broncos played again today. Unfortunately for Denver, they'll likely have to fly to Houston in January if they want a rematch.

    Texans' Odds: Possible

    Projected No. 3 seed: Denver Broncos (6-3)

No. 4 Seed

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    If anything less than the No. 2 seed is unsatisfactory for the Houston Texans, then the fourth seed would be a far fall from grace. A few disappointing efforts down the stretch could make it possible, but it would be uncharacteristic of a team as well-coached as the Texans. 

    The Ravens, on the other hand, are still a question mark even at 7-2. The blowout loss to Houston after suffering devastating injuries on defense was an eye-opener. Struggling to hold off the Cleveland Browns the next week was almost as surprising.

    Blowing out a hapless Oakland Raiders team last Sunday was a good start towards a first-week playoff bye, but by no means are the Ravens coasting into the playoffs.

    Joe Flacco continues to give critics fuel with inconsistent play. Baltimore will rely on its offense going forward now more than ever, and the unit will only go as far as Flacco takes it.

    Beating up on the Raiders in November is one thing. We'll learn more about this Ravens teams after they face the Pittsburgh Steelers twice in the remaining weeks.

    Texans' Odds: Slim

    Projected No. 4 seed: Baltimore Ravens (7-2)

No. 5 Seed

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    It would take more than a few major upset losses in the final stretch of games for the Houston Texans to finish as the fifth seed. Given the number of teams Houston would have to fall past and the number of games it would have to lose, it's a hard scenario to imagine.

    There's a clear break between the top four AFC teams and the remaining group. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts both stand at 6-3, but there's major reasons to doubt either team.

    The Steelers are the more proven group and haven't played their best football yet this season. The offense should only get more comfortable under new offensive coordinator Todd Haley as the season progresses.

    If Big Ben stays in the lineup for the Steelers, they should make the playoffs as the first wild card team. If Ben Roethlisberger misses significant time, it could open the door for a hot team like the Indianapolis Colts to win the fifth seed.

    Texans' Odds: Slim to None

    Projected No. 5 seed: Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3)

No. 6 Seed

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    Missing the playoffs would be catastrophic for the Houston Texans, and finishing as the sixth seed in the AFC would be something close to that. Getting into the tournament should be good enough for any team, but when you've dominated the conference like the Texans have, squeaking in as the sixth seed would be disappointing.

    If the Texans were to make the playoffs as a sixth seed, it would mean the team did some serious losing in the final seven games. The Texans actually did stumble down the stretch somewhat last season, and the team still hosted the Bengals in the divisional round of the playoffs.

    The Texans have yet to face Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts this season. Those two games likely won't have playoff implications, but there will be plenty on the line. The Texans should look forward to getting acquainted with the new-look Colts given the way the old Peyton-led Colts treated the team for years.

    The Colts have played well enough to be considered a serious playoff contender, and it's imaginable they could eek in as the last playoff team in the AFC.

    Is it possible the Texans and Colts could play a third game in January? That's a scenario no football fan imagined a month ago.

    Texans' Odds: Slim to None

    Projected No. 6 seed: Indianapolis Colts