The Indianapolis Colts entered their week off with a huge win over the Packers. Now, at 4-5, the Colts need to find a way to string some wins together if they want to make this season count for something.
The Colts season enters the final stretch on the 20th when they host the Tennessee Titans. Once again they will try to actually win two games in a row and gain some much needed traction on the year.
The win over the Packers is either a sign of things to come or a fluke, depending on who you ask. The Colts played their most complete game of the season last Sunday, but at the same time the Packers are only thought to be great this year because they’re the Packers.
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Right now the Colts are 10th in the AFC, realistically they will need to win the division to make the playoffs (unless they manage to win six of their final seven games which is unlikely). The Colts sit just behind Chargers, which is odd as both teams have the same record and the Colts beat the Chargers earlier this year. But that might be a moot point down the road anyway (and would result in a slightly better draft pick if the season ended today).
There are essentially two ways to look at this season:
Make the playoffs and whatever happens, happens.
Fail in spectacular fashion for a better draft pick and hope Irsay decided to fire Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson.
The latter part of number two seems like a pipe dream and rooting for a high draft pick seems fruitless if Grigson is the one making the selection (his track record is seriously bad).
For the Colts to make the playoffs as a Wild Card team, they probably need 10 wins. But at the same time, that would probably be enough to win the division as well. It isn’t like the Texans are juggernauts as they sit at just 5-3 this year. The Texans have struggled is every game this season and could easily drop three of their next four games (at Jags, vs Raiders, vs Chargers, at Packers).
But like the Colts, the Titans have three more divisional games this season, if either team wins all three they’ll have the inside road to the playoffs.
The Colts remaining schedule isn’t easy either.
Home vs the Titans
Home vs the Steelers
At the Jets
Home vs the Texans
At the Vikings
At the Raiders
Home vs the Jaguars
There are four games there that can reasonably chalked up as wins (AFC South and Jets). The other three, it is hard to see how the Colts will win.
The Steelers come to Indy on a short week for Thanksgiving Night Football. They’ll be fresh off thrashing the Browns on the road and looking for their third straight beatdown over the Colts. In the last two meetings against the Steelers, the Colts have been outscored 96-44. And while those games were on the road, it likely won’t matter.
We don’t know what the Vikings and Raiders will look like in mid-December, but neither team is an easy out for the Colts under the best of circumstances (read: they are both much better than the Packers).
Honestly, the best case scenario is 4-3 over the final stretch of the season. That means an 8-8 final record, which is likely not good enough for a division title (unless the Texans completely fall apart, which is entirely possible).
The Colts really need to steal a win or two late this year and this past week shows they are capable of doing so. The good news is the team is getting healthier and could be at nearly full strength in time for the Titans.
Getting players like Jack Mewhort, Kendall Langford, Henry Anderson and Mike Adams back in the lineup will help make the team more dynamic. But the Colts will still be leaning heavily on Andrew Luck to carry them through the rest of the season. If Luck continues to play at a high level, the Colts will have a shot (and he’ll be in the MVP discussion if they make the playoffs).
There is a chance for a postseason return, even if the odds aren’t in their favor. Their upcoming game against the Titans will tell us a lot about the team’s focus for the final stretch of the year. A big win, and maybe this team has turned the quarter. A close, nail-biting win (again) and it will probably be more of the same. A loss and the season is probably shot.