We've talked quite a bit this week about how big the Colts vs. Patriots game will end up being. The winner of the game gets the inside track to earning a first round bye in the playoffs, and a win this week would greatly help the winning team's chances. Matt Grecco did his Winning Stats and found that a victory on Sunday would put the Colts at a 50% chance to earn a bye while a loss would put the Colts at just an 11.4% chance. For the Patriots, a win would give them a 62% chance while a loss would mean they have a 21% chance. In other words: it's important.
Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, however, is just going about things as business as usual. "Total focus is on our preparation for Sunday, period," Pagano said when asked about the potential playoff implications. "If we don't take care of today, finish up with great meetings, extra film, treatment, rest, eat right, take care of tomorrow, take care of Friday, take care of Saturday, it won't matter. One game at a time." He's right. The Colts have to focus on it one game at a time. It just so happens that this next game is the one we're talking about, too, so we're on the same page there.
"It's huge," cornerback Darius Butler acknowledged. "In the NFL, you're constantly saying we take it one game at a time but everybody knows how big this game is. It's a home game. It's a conference game. Obviously it's one of those teams that's going to be in it for the long haul and be there down the stretch. We expect to be there too. This will be a huge game for a lot of reasons."
Quarterback Andrew Luck deferred back to his coaches, saying, "that's for the coaches to think about and the higher ups. I think for us as players it's the next game, and that's what's important. We realize it's a great team coming into town. It's important because it's an AFC team. It's important because they're a good team. It's at Lucas Oil. It's the next one and that's what's most important."
Kicker Adam Vinatieri, the 19-year veteran, knows a thing or two about what to say in these situations. "Every single game is important," he noted. "This is the most important because it's our next one. I think at the end of the day, one out of 16 games, there's always implications on where it ends at the end. We're really just thinking about a great Patriot team coming in here and we've got to play well."
Wide receiver Reggie Wayne appeared on his weekly radio show with Jake Query and Derek Schultz on Tuesday evening and he too acknowledged that it's a big game.
Wayne on Pats: "What makes this game so important is home-field, things like that. It could have major implications on the postseason."— Derek Schultz (@Schultz1260) November 11, 2014
Ultimately, you'll get a lot of coach speak from Chuck Pagano and the players this week, but you'll have some people note the implications that come with this game, and that's good. They're just being honest. Because whether or not they acknowledge it publicly, everyone knows what is at stake for this game. The Colts' philosophy to take it one game at a time is a good one. It just so happens that this next game has a lot riding on it.