NASHVILLE TN - DECEMBER 09: Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts throws a pass during the NFL game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on December 9 2010 in Nashville Tennessee. The Colts won 30-28. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
The entire season is pretty much this next game. In fact, the game is so very much the apex of the 2010 Colts that, this morning, I'm actually having a hard time finding things to write about. I mean, seriously. I've NEVER had that problem.
Oh sure, I have all kinds of things I can write about when discussing the decisions made by the franchise during the 2010 off-season and what they should do going forward. But, right now it doesn't feel right to publish that stuff. The focus is on the Jaguars, and the reality is that even if the Colts beat them, they aren't out of the woods.
The Colts must win out, folks. The must win every single game that concludes their 2010 season. Currently, the Jaguars are (essentially) 1.5 games up on the Colts. That .5 is the Jacksonville already beating Indy earlier this season. Folks can argue that the Jags are 'lucky,' winning games on 59-yard FGs and 'Hail Mary' touchdowns. For me, that's not luck.
Playoff teams make special plays on special days. As Colts fans, you'd think we'd know this.
Our team doesn't win games by overpowering people or by kicking their ass. Like the 2010 Jaguars, the Colts (in years past) simply made the plays to win while their opponents didn't. Even last year, plays like 4th-and 2 were what got the Colts to the Super Bowl. This year, plays like Taj Smith's forced fumble late against the Cowboys two weeks ago simply do not bounce our way.
When your team isn't very talented (and right now, the Colts aren't), you need 'luck' to win. 'Luck,' in the NFL, is making plays.
Even if the Colts have a little luck against the Jags Sunday, this still puts them tied tied the AFC South. After the Indy game, the Jaguars finish their season at home against the Redskins and on the road against the Texans. Both are chump teams with terrible defenses the Jaguars should beat.
The Colts, meanwhile, have to fly all the way out to Oakland and take on the Raiders in Week Fifteen. Then, come all the way back home and take on the Titans again. And just as this upcoming game is a 'must win,' the games against the Raiders and Titans again are also 'must win.' If the Colts lose any one of them, they are done.
Just so people know where someone like me stands, I do not advocate 'tanking' the season in order to get a better draft pick. Though, the irony here (especially if you follow Bill Polian's 'logic') is these last three games are as 'meaningless' as the final three games of the 2009 season.
Sure, winning out in 2010 gets the Colts in the playoffs, but with so many injuries and so much inept talent on the offensive line, this team is likely one-and-done in the post-season. Even if they win one playoff game, do you honestly see this team going to Pittsburgh or Foxboro and winning? I don't, and I don't think Bill Polian does either. Last year, Polian and Jim Caldwell tanked the final two games of the regular season because they wanted to make a deep playoff run. For them, one-and-done in the post-season was meaningless.
Knowing this, 'tanking' these upcoming games is probably in the best interests of this franchise long-term. At least, that is what some draft experts are saying.
But, I didn't advocate 'tanking' games last year, and I don't this year. Throwing games is a loser's mentality, and the Colts are still paying the price for that decision made almost one year ago, and likely will continue to do so. I personally am always in favor of playing to win, which means having your best players out there at all times.
I want the Colts to win and get to the post-season, but I'm also a realist. This is a lost season. Making the playoffs is nice. That's the expectation. But, that doesn't get me excited, especially when I know there are better teams in the AFC that will beat these Colts in the playoffs. In the twilight of the Manning era, the only thing that matters is Super Bowls. If that is not a realistic goal by mid-December, then the season is bust and changes need to be made.
That's just how I feel, folks. Maybe you share that opinion. Maybe you don't.
I think we all want this team to win out and salvage something from this awful year, but the fact is our club just isn't very good right now, and they will need a lot of 'luck' to get into the post-season let alone make any noise when they get there.