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Sunday, December 23, 2012
Colts, not Texans, with nothing to lose

By Paul Kuharsky

Since it became apparent the Indianapolis Colts had a shot at joining the Houston Texans in the playoffs, we've frequently wondered if Houston would have anything to play for in their Week 17 matchup in Indianapolis.

It illustrates the league's fantastic unpredictability that we were asking about the wrong team.

With a win in Indianapolis, the Texans can assure home-field advantage throughout the postseason (unless they make it to the Super Bowl in New Orleans.)

It's the Colts who have nothing at stake.

In the worst case scenario, they lose and the Bengals win and they both finish at 10-6. That would send the two teams into a tie-breaker to determine which of the wild card teams gets the No. 5 seed and plays at No. 4 and which of the wild card teams gets the No. 6 seed and plays at No. 3.

Both Indianapolis and Cincinnati would be 7-5 in the AFC. Which would take them to the next tie-breaker: best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.

Against the Jaguars, Browns, Chiefs and Dolphins, the Colts are 4-1. The Bengals are 3-2.

One more scenario we need to cover. If Baltimore loses the game its playing right now against the Giants and is still at nine wins heading into Week 17, a win at Cincinnati would give the Ravens the AFC North title. A loss to the Bengals would means the Ravens are a nine-win, sixth-seeded wild card behind the Colts.

So the Colts are the fifth seed no matter what.

Chuck Pagano is due back tomorrow. I'd expect his plan for Sunday against Houston would be to rest his hurt guys and minimize risk.

I never would have imagined they'd be the team with nothing at stake in this one.