Is 3-Game Lead Enough for Colts to Hold onto the AFC South?

Chris Trapasso@ChrisTrapassoAnalyst INovember 15, 2013

USA Today

It's not officially official, but the Indianapolis Colts are well on their way to the 2013 AFC South title.

To kick off Week 11, they erased a 14-point deficit to beat the Tennessee Titans 30-27 to move to 7-3 on the year, giving them a full three-game lead in the division with six games left. 

Andrew Luck completed 23 of 36 passes for 232 yards and scrambled for a go-ahead touchdown with 7:36 remaining in the third quarter. 

The Titans were outscored 24-10 in the second half and allowed Donald Brown to rush for 80 yards with two touchdowns on 14 carries, while Chris Johnson accumulated only 16 yards after running for 70 in the first quarter alone. 

The Houston Texans host the Oakland Raiders, and the Jacksonville Jaguars get the Arizona Cardinals at home on Sunday.

Here's a look at the current AFC South division standings: 

AFC South Standings Before Sunday's Week 11 Action
W-LDivision RecordConference Record
1. Colts7-33-05-2
2. Titans4-60-33-4
3. Texans2-71-12-3
4. Jaguars1-81-11-5

Down the stretch, the Colts will play a few games that will likely have major implications on AFC playoff positioning, but the fact that they've gotten their divisional road contests out of the way is huge. 

  • Week 12: at Arizona Cardinals 
  • Week 13: vs. Tennessee Titans
  • Week 14: at Cincinnati Bengals 
  • Week 15: vs. Houston Texans 
  • Week 16: at Kansas City Chiefs
  • Week 17: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Week 14's matchup with the Bengals and Week 16's trip to Arrowhead Stadium to face the Chiefs are the most difficult games remaining on Indianapolis' schedule, but the 5-4 Cardinals mustn't be taken lightly, either. 

No team has been mathematically eliminated in the AFC South just yet, but this tweet from Derek Schultz of WNDE 1260 AM out of Indianapolis provides some insight as to what needs to happen for the second-place Titans to win the division: 

Titans will likely have to go 4-2 or 5-1 while Colts finish 0-6 or 1-5 to win AFC South | Query & Schultz @wnde

— Derek Schultz (@Schultz1260) November 15, 2013

In Schultz's reactionary column, he wrote: "The division championship champagne is on ice. It could end as soon as Week 13." 

Here's what's ahead on Tennessee's schedule.

  • Week 12: at Oakland Raiders
  • Week 13: at Indianapolis Colts
  • Week 14: at Denver Broncos
  • Week 15: vs. Arizona Cardinals
  • Week 16: at Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Week 17: vs. Houston Texans

While next week's battle with the Raiders isn't necessarily intimidating, back-to-back road games against the Colts and Broncos are quite daunting. 

Even if Tennessee beats Oakland and Indianapolis loses to Arizona in Week 12, and the Titans somehow upend the Colts in front of their home crowd the following week, Mike Munchak's team will still be a game back with a trip to Denver next on the docket.

The Houston Texans would need a miracle of their own to win their third-straight division title, and this is what their remaining schedule looks like:

  • Week 12: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Week 13: vs. New England Patriots
  • Week 14: at Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Week 15: at Indianapolis Colts
  • Week 16: vs. Denver Broncos
  • Week 17: at Tennessee Titans 

Case Keenum has injected life into the Texans offense and the defense is still one of the better units in the AFC. But outings against the Patriots, Colts and Broncos make it hard to believe Houston, a team that essentially has to be perfect the rest of the way, will be able to jump Indianapolis late in the year.

The Colts certainly have business to take care of, but after winning seven of their first 10 games, they've found themselves in a tremendous situation to clinch the AFC South, an achievement that would guarantee at least one home playoff game. 


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