Back in 2009, the Houston Texans had recovered from a midseason swoon that left them at 5-7 with four wins in a row to close out the season. A Week 17 win against the New England Patriots (yes, there was a time when the Texans could actually beat the Patriots) brought the Texans' record to 9-7. The tiebreakers were not kind to the Texans, but miraculously, after that noon kickoff win over the Pats, everything broke right in the afternoon, leaving one piece of business remaining for the franchise to secure its first playoff berth ever.
The Texans needed the Cincinnati Bengals to beat the New York Jets in the Sunday night game, and the Texans would garner a wild card spot in the AFC. There were only two problems — first, the Bengals had already clinched a playoff spot, so they didn't need a win in Week 17. Second, they're the fucking Bengals. Aside from Anthony Munoz, a couple of random MVP seasons from Ken Anderson and Boomer Esiason, and A.J. Green, is there much to trust about the Bengals? (No. The answer is no.)
So naturally, the Bengals lost that 2009 game 37-0. Hey, at least you didn't have to stay up late to see the ending.
I can't say the same thing for last night. On a Monday night, when all the Texans needed to clinch the 2015 AFC South title was a win by the Bengals over the Broncos (if you want to know why that is, here you go), the Bengals waited until about 11:00 at night to break our hearts this time around, losing in positively Bengal-like fashion — blown 14-0 lead, game ending on a botched snap — 20-17 in overtime. The good news for the Texans is that, in order to lose the division, there are literally nine more things that would have to break the wrong way in Week 17 for them. Thankfully, Monday night was not a "do-or-die" situation for the Texans.
Quickly, the nine things are:
* Jacksonville (+5.5) must beat HOUSTON
* INDIANAPOLIS (-6) must beat Tennessee
* BUFFALO (+3) must beat New York Jets
* ATLANTA (NL) must beat New Orleans
* Baltimore (+3.5) must beat CINCINNATI
* DENVER (-7.5) must beat San Diego
* MIAMI (+8) must beat New England
* Pittsburgh (-10) must beat CLEVELAND
* Oakland (+6.5) must beat KANSAS CITY
If you threw down a nine team parlay on this possibility, here's the math on the payout....
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So there will be no de facto bye week in Week 17 for the Texans, not that Bill O'Brien was going to treat it like one anyway. On Monday afternoon, the Texans' head coach was adamant that the team was going to treat Week 17 like a typical regular season game, regardless of Monday night's Bengals-Broncos outcome. In other words, balls to the wall, all out, blah blah blah.
Meanwhile, with that win on Monday night, former Texans head coach Gary Kubiak and the Broncos clinched a playoff spot, so most of the drama in Week 17 is about seeding the AFC and NFC postseasons. Aside from the Colts' microscopic playoff chances, the only other team currently out of the playoff picture who could work their way in are the ultra-dangerous Pittsburgh Steelers. (That said, the Steelers are not all that dangerous at playoff time when they're a seven seed.)
For now, I need to go shower again in some really strong chemicals. That's what a night of futile rooting for the likes of Pac Man Jones, Jeremy Hill and Vontaze Burfict will do to you.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.