Don’t look now, but Colts positioned nicely in AFC playoff race

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - NOVEMBER 18: Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts throws a pass down field in the game against the Tennessee Titans in the second quarter at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 18, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Another week down and the objective remains a very real possibility.

A return to the playoffs for the first time since 2014 wasn’t on the front-burner at the start of the season for the Indianapolis Colts, but the idea has heated up as the team has posted its first five-game winning streak since that season.

Monday night’s outcome didn’t hurt things one bit in the pursuit of the conference’s second wild-card playoff berth. Houston (8-3) stretched its winning streak to eight games and strengthened its hold on the AFC South at the expense of the Tennessee Titans (5-6).

Heading into Sunday’s test at reeling Jacksonville – 3-8, seven straight losses, a benched Blake Bortles, a suspended Leonard Fournette, a fired offensive coordinator – the Colts are tied with the Baltimore Ravens at 6-5 for the sixth and final postseason spot in the AFC. The Ravens currently hold the tiebreaker based on a better conference record (6-3 to 5-4)

That’s an encouraging status considering the Colts opened the season 1-5. Veteran safety Mike Mitchell hasn’t given up on catching the Texans, who have a two-game lead on Indy in the division. The Colts’ rematch with Houston is Dec. 9.

“We are right where we want to be in the division hunt,” Mitchell said. “We’ve got to just control what we can control and that is our next opponent, our next game.

“Everything we want is still right in front of us. We are not necessarily thinking about anything other than that.”

But we are.

Here’s a look at the remaining schedules of the primary teams in pursuit of the AFC’s second wild-card playoff spot:

  • 6-5 Colts: at Jacksonville (3-8), at Houston (8-3), Dallas (6-5), New York Giants (3-8), at Tennessee (5-6). Opponents’ record: 25-30.
  • 6-5 Baltimore: at Atlanta (4-7), at Kansas City (9-2), Tampa Bay (4-7), at Los Angeles Chargers (8-3), Cleveland (4-6-1). Opponents’ record: 29-25-1.
  • 5-6 Tennessee: at New York Jets (3-8), Jacksonville (3-8), at New York Giants (3-8), Washington (6-5), Colts (6-5). Opponents’ record: 21-34.
  • 5-6 Miami: Buffalo (4-7), New England (8-3), at Minnesota (6-4-1) Jacksonville (3-8), at Buffalo (4-7). Opponents’ record: 25-29-1.
  • 5-6 Cincinnati: Denver (5-6), at Los Angeles Chargers (8-3), Oakland (2-9), at Cleveland (4-6-1), at Pittsburgh (7-3-1). Opponents’ record: 26-27-2.
  • 5-6 Denver: at Cincinnati (5-6), at San Francisco (2-9), Cleveland (4-6-1), at Oakland (2-9), Chicago (8-3). Opponents’ record: 21-33-1.
  • 4-6-1 Cleveland: at Houston (8-3), Carolina (6-5), at Denver (5-6), Cincinnati (5-6), at Baltimore (6-5). Opponents’ record: 30-25.

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51