The Colts are 6-3 after ten weeks of football.
That's shocking. So shocking that the people in charge of the Colts are admittedly stunned.
It's not a stretch to say that part of the reason for Indianapolis' improbable record to this point is the team galvanizing around a simple cause: Winning for their head coach.
By now, you likely know what Chuck Pagano is going through, and if you don't, move out of the sticks. Pagano's illness has been a rallying cry, and since the head coach took a leave of absence and handed the reigns over to Bruce Arians, Indianapolis has gone 5-1, including
three four straight wins with two of those wins being division games on the road.
With seven games to play, the Colts are in terrific position to make the post-season.
Yes, the PLAYOFFS! This just one season removed from a terrible 2011 campaign that saw them start 0-13, finish 2-14, and usher in the post-Peyton Manning era.
Outside of the 8-1 Houston Texans, who seem a lock to win the AFC South for the second year in a row, the AFC playoff field is weak. There are six teams with 6-3 records, or better. Everyone else is hovering at of below 4-5. This puts Indianapolis is great position. Reasons:
- Indy has what amounts to a three-game lead over Miami (4-5) and Tennessee (4-6). The Colts have beaten the Dolphins and Titans head-to-head, though a rematch is scheduled with the Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 9th. Should Indianapolis defeat Tennessee in Week 14, that would pretty much knock the Titans from the playoff picture.
- San Diego and Cincinnati are both 4-5, but the Chargers are coming off a terrible loss to the Buccaneers. San Diego's next four games are at Denver, Baltimore at home, Cincy at home, and then on the road at Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, Cincy has to play at Pittsburgh December 23rd, and they end the regular season hosting the Ravens. Cincy has yet to defeat both those teams this season, and they were swept by both last year.
- While injuries are never fun to witness, it is possible that Pittsburgh (6-3) could be without Ben Roethlisberger for as long as six weeks. Pittsburgh plays two of its next three games against Baltimore, with a trip to Cleveland sandwiched in between. They also have to go to Dallas on December 16th.
Meanwhile, the combined record for the opponents the Colts will face over the next seven weeks is 26-28. The "win" column is a bit inflated because the Colts face the Texans both in Weeks 15 and 17. However, it is likely that, by Week 17, the Texans could have homefield locked up. This means they could rest starters. That Week 17 game is at Indianapolis though, and in their entire 11 year history, the Texans have never won in Indy.
Take the Texans out of the equation, and Indy's opponents are 18-27. The Colts will host the Bills and Titans over the next seven weeks. They also play a game at Kansas City. The Chiefs are currently 1-8.
The point is that, even with their December 2nd trip to Detroit, the Colts have four games remaining that they should flat out win. That puts them at 10 wins before facing Houston in Week 17. That's enough to make the post-season in this current AFC field.
It's worth noting that the Colts have targeted that Week 17 game as a possible return for Chuck Pagano to the sidelines (or, possibly, coaching from the booth). If Indianapolis is 10-5 coming into that game, it will make things easier for Pagano to transition back into coaching after enduring several weeks of chemotherapy and other cancer treatments.
Also, it would just be a great story, and a wonderful triumph for Pagano and the hopefully playoff bound Colts.
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