An important win against the Tennessee Titans last week has put the Indianapolis Colts in the driver's seat towards their playoff push.
The 22-14 win over the Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium gave the Colts the season sweep over their division rivals and a three-game lead in the AFC South, a de facto four-game lead when you factor in a tie does the Titans to finish the season no longer does them no good.
In baseball terms, the Colts magic number now sits at one, as a Colts win over the Cincinnati Bengals or a Titans loss at the Denver Broncos give the Colts the division and a playoff berth.
With a division crown, the team cannot be any lower than a 4-seed in the AFC playoffs, and will be guaranteed a home game in its first game. However, if a team has to play on Wild Card weekend right now, grabbing a 3-seed would be advised.
It looks safe to assume either the Denver Broncos or Kansas City Chiefs will end up as the 5-seed in the AFC as the top wild card participant, meaning a difficult game for a 4-seed against either of those teams to open the playoffs. Securing a 3-seed means getting a team that currently is no better than .500 in your first game, meaning a much easier matchup on paper.
For the Colts, who currently are the 3-seed based off a tiebreaker over the Bengals, will have a big game in Cincinnati on Sunday that is going to have a large ripple effect for the rest of the season. The Bengals have the more difficult three-game schedule to close out the season, including going to Pittsburgh and hosting Baltimore, but getting behind Cincinnati and losing out on the head-to-head tiebreaker would be a major step back for the Colts.
And while stave off Cincinnati, the Colts are still on the Patriots heels for a bye as a top two seed, only one game back of New England.
A big Sunday is approaching for Indianapolis' playoff positioning, and the ball is in their hands on how to get through it.
AFC South standings
1. Denver 10-2
2. New England 9-3
3. Indianapolis 8-4
4. Cincinnati 8-4
5. Kansas City 9-3
6. Baltimore 6-6
The rest: Miami 6-6, Tennessee 5-7, Pittsburgh 5-7, San Diego 5-7, New York Jets 5-7, Oakland 4-8, Cleveland 4-8, Jacksonville 4-9
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