Houston Texans Look to Hold off Broncos, Patriots for AFC's No. 1 Seed

Eric McKelvieSenior Writer IDecember 28, 2012

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 23:  Quarterback Matt Schaub #8 of the Houston Texans delivers a pass against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 23, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Texans defeated the Broncos 35-28.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The AFC playoff field is set but the seeds are not. Three teams remain in the hunt for the No. 1 seed based on Week 17 playoff scenarios. 

The Houston Texans (12-3), Denver Broncos (12-3) and New England Patriots (11-4) all have a shot at the No. 1 seed. The best the Baltimore Ravens (10-5) can do is pass the Patriots to finish as the third seed.

After starting the season 11-1, the Texans have dropped two of their last three games. In Week 14, they visited the Patriots and lost 42-14, meaning New England holds the tiebreaker should the two teams finish with the same record. 

In Week 15, Houston bounced back at home, beating the Indianapolis Colts, 29-17. However, last week the Minnesota Vikings came to town and upset the Texans, 23-6, despite Adrian Peterson rushing for just 86 yards, his lowest total since Week 6.  

Yet, the Texans still control their own destiny, according to the playoff scenarios provided by NFL.com.

A win over Indianapolis (10-5) on Sunday would lock up the No. 1 seed for the Texans. A loss, however, could cost Houston the No. 1 seed and possibly even a bye.

The Broncos have won 10 consecutive games after losing early on to the Atlanta Falcons (13-2), Texans and Patriots. If Denver beats the Kansas City Chiefs (2-13) and Houston loses, the Broncos would secure the No. 1 seed in the AFC. 

The Patriots could take the top seed because they own the three-way tiebreaker with Texans and Broncos. Should New England beat the Miami Dolphins (7-8) and the Texans and Broncos lose, all three teams would finish 12-4 and New England would take the No. 1 seed.

If the Broncos and Patriots both win and Houston loses, the Texans would fall to third and host the Cincinnati Bengals (9-6) in a rematch of last year’s Wild Card game.

It would be a disappointing way for the Texans to start their playoff run, considering they held the top spot in the AFC throughout the regular season.