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Colts treating every game like a playoff game for rest of season

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Indianapolis Colts v Houston Texans Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

With seven games left in the season, the Colts still can achieve their goals despite a 4-5 record. They’re still within reach of the AFC South title, which would get them into the playoffs where they would have a chance to make a run.

But because of their 4-5 record, however, they don’t have much margin for error - particularly when it comes to their three remaining AFC South games. The first of those comes this Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, and the Colts will also host the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars before the season is over. The Colts will need to take care of business in those games and in their others as well if they hope to turn things around, make up ground in the division, and reach the postseason.

But is it hard returning from a bye week to play a huge game like this?

“It really shouldn’t be,” head coach Chuck Pagano said today. “Everything is right there. We’ve got a great opportunity. The race is on, if you will. These are all playoff games as far as we’re concerned, and if you have a hard time getting up for that then you shouldn’t be in this business.”

It’s somewhat cliche for a team in the Colts’ situation to say that every game is like a playoff game, but there’s also some element of truth to it: while it’s not win or go home quite yet, the Colts can’t really afford to stumble much during the final seven games. They’re going to need to improve and play better to make up ground on both the Titans and the Texans in the division race.

“I always preach to my guys, control what you can control,” tight end Dwayne Allen said on Monday. “We can’t control the way that Houston goes out and plays or how Tennessee plays or anyone else in our division. All that we can control is the way that we prepare for each game and go out. If we focus on that enough the chips will fall our way and that’s where we’re focused.”

The Colts can control their preparation and play for this Sunday’s game against the Titans, which would be a huge one to get their second win against Tennessee this year and jump them in the standings. As they get ready for that game the team will have a playoff mindset, which they’ll keep for the rest of the season as long as they’re in the race.