Houston Texans (10-1)
Things seem to be falling completely into place for the Texans, as the road to the top of the AFC South finally runs through Houston, after a decade or so of running through Indianapolis.
Matt Schaub has been an elite quarterback, ranking No. 8 in the league in passing rating with 19 TDs and 9 INT, and he has one of the league’s top targets in Andre Johnson.
Then there’s Arian Foster … one of just four runners to already break the 1,000-yard barrier. And a strong defensive unit led by J.J. Watt.
Playoff Snapshot: Absolutely in the playoffs, and also a lock for a first-week bye. They probably would be Super Bowl favorites, but there are gentlemen named Manning and Brady in their way.
Indianapolis Colts (7-4)
After one year in the dumps (suffering through a near-winless campaign with Peyton Manning out with injury), things are full of hope in Indy. The main hope is for a full cancer recovery for Head Coach Chuck Pagano, who left the locker room early in the year for treatment.
The other hope swirls around top draft pick Andrew Luck, who has shown poise beyond his years (it probably helps that his father -- Oliver Luck -- was a NFL quarterback as well), and ranking No. 8 in the league in total passing yards.
That being said, the schedule as been a bit soft, they haven’t played Houston yet (they meet twice in the last three weeks, in an odd schedule quirk), and the defense has been nothing special. But, in a top-heavy AFC, they have put themselves at the front of the line for a wild card, and that’s something.
Playoff Snapshot: Looks like they’ll get in, but the Colts don’t have the horses to get very far.
Tennessee Titans (4-7)
Chris Johnson has shown flashes of his old, dominant self, and that probably counts as the highlight for the Titans. After only one good game in his first five, Johnson has rolled off six strong games in a row to raise his season yardage total to 942.
But the offense hasn’t gotten on track, with quarterback snaps shared by old vet Matt Hasselbeck and sometimes-injured second-year player Jake Locker.
And the defense has been below-average as well.
Playoff Snapshot: Tennessee would have to roll off five straight to be in contention, and that does not appear to be within the realm of possibility.
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9)
Things are looking pretty bad for everyone except those seeking to snag the Jags on the cheap and move them to Los Angeles.
When perusing these stats, remember there are only 32 teams: 26th in passing yards, 31st in rushing yards, 28th in passing yards allowed, and 29th in rushing yards allowed.
Quarterback Blaine Gabbert looks like a bust (he’s been replaced by Dolphins reject Chad Henne), and one-time stud running back Maurice Jones-Drew has only 414 yards and one TD.
Playoff Snapshot: Not this year, and not anytime soon.