Are you ready for two semi-obscure, "guilty pleasure" television references in one day? I hope so. Earlier today, as you may have read, in what I'm sure sent the Pulitzer folks scrambling to reevaluate 2013, I compared Rex Ryan and Ed Reed to Lowell Mather and Big Strong Man, respectively, from the cult 90's classic Wings.
Staying with NBC, back in college I was a big fan of Days of our Lives, which is noteworthy because a) I went to a school whose admission standards belie students there enjoying soap operas, and b) I have a penis.
I think my favorite part about Days (true "soap" fan sign, referring to the show by one word...DAYS) was how no character ever really died. I mean sure, there were funerals and lots of crying when stalwarts like Patch would die in a boat explosion or Hope would fall prey to some sort of deadly magic trick at the hands of Stefano DiMera. But for some reason, a majority of the time, right after the lethal incident in question they'd never find a body or they'd switch the bodies at the last minute, and then the character would return to Salem, USA, five years later with a case of amnesia.
In short, it was amazing the multiple lives some of these people had (and continue to have, as I saw Hope on a promo for Days just yesterday. She's died like five times). Seriously, I think if a nuclear bomb wiped out the country all that would be left would be cockroaches and John Black.
So what does this have to do with football?
Well, at 2-10, it had been widely assumed that the Houston Texans de facto elimination from the NFL playoffs several weeks ago had been confirmed with actual mathematical elimination from the playoff picture this weekend. I mean, after all, even in the top heavy mess that is the AFC (a vast stew of 6-6, 5-7, and 4-8 teams), even the 2-10 Texans were no longer a wild card factor mathematically, right?
Much like that Days of our Lives character rising from the ashes of an intricate Victor Kiriakis murder plot and wandering aimlessly back into Salem, the Houston Texans are, in fact, still alive (and wandering aimlessly) in the chase to make the NFL playoffs! Yes, they've been wrapped in bloody bandages, starving in a hovel in the Amazon jungle all season and been brainwashed into thinking they're the 2005 version of the Texans, but they are not dead!
Not yet, at least! Now, you may want to sit down here...I know this sounds crazy, but this tattered 2-10 punching bag that is in the midst of a ten game losing streak needs a little bit of help to make the playoffs at 6-10. They do not, repeat DO NOT, control their own destiny. Right, crazy, I know.
Thanks to the hard work of Chris Burke at SI.com (with an assist from the ESPN.com Playoff Machine), the combination of events that would need to take place for the Texans to rise from their soap opera-style amnesia and make the 2013 NFL playoffs goes as follows:
• The Houston Texans must win the remainder of their games. No team that's finished worse than even 7-9 has ever made the playoffs (and that was a division crown in 2010 with 7-9 Seattle), so this one is a no brainer. You all know the Texans remaining four games: at Jacksonville, at Indianapolis, home for Denver, and at Tennessee.
• The Baltimore Ravens (6-6) and Miami Dolphins (6-6) must lose their remaining four games. Again, another mathematical no brainer as the Texans are hoping for a mosh pit of 6-10 teams, which essentially turns the AFC second wild card chase into the party equivalent of that gaggle of dorks in Dead Poets Society gathering in that cave to read poems to each other. Lamest. Party. Ever.
• The Tennessee Titans (5-7), Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7), San Diego Chargers (5-7) and New York Jets (5-7, and with Ed Reed on the roster) must ALL finish 1-3 or worse. More obvious math, although the question becomes "Is that even possible, given the fact that some of these teams have to play each other, right?" The answer is "Yes, it's still possible," which may be the most amazing thing about all of this.
• The Oakland Raiders (4-8), Cleveland Browns (4-8) and Buffalo Bills (4-8) must finish 2-2 or worse. More obvious and necessary math. The most painful part of this post is the reminder that a) all three of these teams are two games better than the Texans in the standings, and b) the Texans lost to Matt F-ing McGloin! At home!
Now comes the really crazy part, and I'll defer to Burke on this one:
The Texans' ridiculous hope for the playoffs: to have at least seven AFC teams finish tied at 6-10 -- themselves, plus the Steelers, Ravens, Dolphins, Browns, Jets, Chargers and the winner of a Week 15 game between the Bills and Jaguars. Oakland, Tennessee and the loser of that Buffalo-Jacksonville game could finish 6-10 or 5-11 without propping up another wild-card contender's record.
Should that happen, the Texans' could secure the AFC's second wild-card spot via a tremendously convoluted set of tiebreakers.
I'll take the ESPN.com Playoff Machine's word for it (mostly because as a "machine" it is, by definition, smarter than me.)
So if you want to keep that 0.00001 percent of playoff hope alive this weekend, here are the important games and the team in each game that you need to root for in BOLD:
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SHOW ME HOW
Houston (-3) at Jacksonville Minnesota (+7) at Baltimore Cleveland at New England Oakland (+2 1/2) at New York Jets Miami at Pittsburgh (-3 1/2) New York Giants (+3) at San Diego
So let's not go printing those Teddy Bridgewater jerseys just yet, Houston! There's still time, the pathetic soap opera character that is the Houston Texans might just shake this amnesia and remember that they were supposed to be a Super Bowl contender!
More likely? The diabolical Shahid Khan (whose mustache screams "SOAP OPERA VILLAIN") kills them once and for all in front of tens of viewers in Jacksonville.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.