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The Colts can clinch a playoff berth this week: Here's what to cheer for

If the Colts can beat the Steelers Sunday, they could lock up a playoff spot.
Credit: AP
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Zach Pascal (14) celebrates a touchdown with teammates in the second half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans in Indianapolis, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

INDIANAPOLIS — There could be a big playoff present under the tree for the Indianapolis Colts this holiday weekend.

The Colts head into Week 16 with a chance to lock up at least an AFC Wild Card spot, with a division title still within reach.

First things first, they'll need to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road Sunday afternoon. Without a win, Indy's playoff hopes will be put on hold. 

The Steelers of late are a far cry from the team that started the season 11-0. They've now lost three straight games, including a home loss to the sub-.500 Washington Football Team and a Monday night defeat at the hands of the 3-10-1 Cincinnati Bengals. 

In fact, one early betting line places the Colts as a two-point favorite on the road in Sunday's game.

The Colts may know heading into Sunday's game if they have a chance to clinch a playoff berth. If Las Vegas beats or ties Miami Saturday night, Indianapolis is in. If the Dolphins win, the Colts can still punch their ticket with a win, plus a New York Giants win or tie against the Baltimore Ravens. 

If the Colts and Steelers tie, Indianapolis still clinches with a loss by the Dolphins or the Ravens.

To clarify, here are the scenarios sent directly from the NFL that will result in the Colts clinching a playoff spot:

  1. IND win + BAL loss or tie OR
  2. IND win + MIA loss or tie OR
  3. IND tie + BAL loss OR
  4. IND tie + MIA loss

While a loss to the Steelers would not end the Colts' playoff hopes, it could signal the end of their chances to win the AFC South. 

If the Colts lose at Pittsburgh and Tennessee beats Green Bay, the Titans will be division champs, leaving the Colts to battle with the Dolphins, Ravens and, potentially, the Cleveland Browns, for a wild card spot. A Colts loss Sunday coupled with a Cleveland win over the New York Jets assures the Browns of a playoff bid for the first time in 18 years, leaving the others to fight for two playoff spots.

The Raiders still have a slim chance to claim a wild card spot, but will be eliminated with a loss or tie against the Dolphins or a Ravens win or tie against the Giants, according to NFLPlayoffScenarios.com.

Should it come down to it, the Colts will host Jacksonville next Sunday in the season finale with what is sure to be a completely new list of scenarios to figure out.