How the Texans' Comeback Over the Colts Impacted the Playoffs
Midway through the fourth quarter of their Week 6 game against the Houston Texans, the Indianapolis Colts were in control, leading 23-9 after an Adam Vinatieri field goal with 5:17 to play. Brock Osweiler was making the Colts' defense look like the 1985 Chicago Bears, old man Frank Gore was getting it done on the ground, and everything was going as well as could have reasonably been expected considering Indy was a three-point road underdog.
With 5:37 left in the game, Houston had a lowly 2.07% chance to win. The Colts were going to move into a tie atop the division at 3-3 and pick up a huge road win over their chief AFC South competition, maybe turning around what had been -- up to that point -- a pretty lackluster season.
Then, the Texas rallied.
Or the Colts collapsed -- however you want to look at it.
Lamar Miller danced his way to the end zone on a 10-yard reception to make it 23-16 at the 2:37 mark, and after a quick three-and-out by the Colts, Osweiler hit C.J. Fiedorowicz for a 26-yard touchdown with 49 seconds left, forcing overtime.
In the extra session, Houston forced a punt and then drove 52 yards in six plays, setting up Nick Novak's game-winning 33-yard field goal.
The win probability graph is predictably insane.
Here's your IND/HOU game graph: IND peaked at 98% to win with 5:00 left in the 4th. Dare we call it Chargers-esque? pic.twitter.com/YX2xXssEFo
— numberFire (@numberFire) October 17, 2016
Either Houston or Indy has won the AFC South every year since 2009, so it's always a big game when these two meet up. So how big was Houston's comeback?
Historically, teams with a 4-2 record -- like the Texans have now -- make the postseason roughly 60% of the time. On the flip side, teams who are 3-3 after six games make the playoffs just 37% of the time, meaning Houston's come-from-behind win was worth a 23% jump in historical playoff odds -- but it was probably even bigger than that when you consider it was the Colts who they beat.
Per our algorithm, the Texans have a 74.9% chance to reach the playoffs and a 68.8% chance to win the division. The Tennessee Titans, with a 24.8% chance to win the division, are the only other team in the AFC South with a fighting chance to catch the Texans.
As big as the victory was for Houston, it was an equally devastating defeat for the Colts. Teams who are 2-4 make the playoffs just 9% of the time, but, as we mentioned, 3-3 teams make it 37% of the time -- not great odds, but a heck of a lot better than 9%.
Our algorithm is really down on the Colts, giving them a measly 2.5% chance of making the playoffs and a 1.4% chance of winning the AFC South, and rating them as the second-worst team in the league, ahead of only the Jacksonville Jaguars.
In all likelihood, the Colts were going to miss out on the playoffs this year regardless of how last Sunday's game went, but after that loss, Andrew Luck and the Colts are pretty much done in 2016 while the Texans have a stranglehold on their second straight AFC South crown.