As we all know, the Colts are out of the playoff picture. They’re eliminated from postseason contention, and therefore they will be playing the first truly meaningless game of the Chuck Pagano era.
So as a result, there’s no magical playoff scenario that Colts fans should be rooting for to happen this week, but there are still things that you can root for if you’re interested in still paying attention to this team as they get ready to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Here’s a rooting guide for Colts fans for this weekend:
- Root for Frank Gore to get 37+ yards rushing. He’s one of the true good guys on this team, and he’s easy to root for: Gore is a consummate professional who always does his best and wants to win above all else. He’s a great teammate, and he’s a great player too. With just 37 yards rushing this Sunday, he would reach 1,000 on the season, which would be quite significant. It would mean that he would become the first Colts player to reach that mark since Joseph Addai in 2007, while he would also become the oldest player to reach that mark in the NFL since John Riggins did it in 1984 (Gore is 33). Gore would also become just the fifth player in league history to top 1,000 yards in nine different seasons, joining four Hall of Famers. In a rough year for the team, it would be cool to see Gore reach those milestones.
- Root for Andrew Luck to throw for 81+ yards and 1+ touchdown. One of the bright spots of this season for the Colts has been the return of Andrew Luck, who has played very good football this season. With 81 yards on Sunday, he will reach 4,000 yards this season - marking the fourth time he will have done that in five years in the NFL. Furthermore, with just one more touchdown pass he will reach 30 on the season, which would mark the second time he’s reached that number in a season. Luck is already on pace for a career-high in completion percentage, yards per attempt, and passer rating in a season, so reaching those other milestones would be great to see. Luck could also extend his league-leading streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass to 23, while if he throws for 201 yards he would pass Matt Ryan for the third-most through a player’s first five seasons in NFL history (and in eight less games).
- Root for T.Y. Hilton to stay ahead of the pack in receiving yards. Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton is currently leading the NFL in receiving yards with just one game to go, so Colts fans should be rooting for him to stay ahead of the rest of the pack this Sunday. There are four players within 100 yards of him (Odell Beckham, Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, and Mike Evans), though the Steelers might rest Brown since they’re locked into the third seed in the AFC playoffs. It would be great to see Hilton lead the league in receiving yards, as he’d be the first Colts player to do so since Reggie Wayne in 2007. Furthermore, Hilton currently has the eighth-highest single-season yards total in Colts history, and with just 61 yards he could jump into fifth place. With 107 yards, he would pass Calvin Johnson for the eighth-most receiving yards through a player’s first five seasons in NFL history.
- Root for Robert Mathis. With one more game, Mathis would tie longtime Colts long snapper Justin Snow for the seventh-most games played with the Colts in franchise history with 192. He’s also just 0.5 sacks away from tying Dwight Freeney for the 17th-most in NFL history, and while Freeney is still active and could re-up that total, it would be fitting for them to be tied. Fans should root especially hard for Mathis since this may be his last game as a Colt or in the NFL, and it will be at Lucas Oil Stadium.
- Root for the Colts to get blown out. If you’re one of those fans who wants Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson fired (and let’s be honest, that seems to be most Colts fans at this point), the last hope you have is for them to get embarrassed by the Jaguars at home. With the Colts already out of the playoff picture you’d figure that missing the playoffs in back-to-back seasons would be enough to motivate Jim Irsay to make a change, but it’s no sure thing right now. It’s unlikely that this weekend’s game will have a big impact on the decision, but we all know that owners hate being embarrassed: so if the Colts get beat badly at home by a 3-12 Jaguars team with Andrew Luck and the other starters playing, that won’t sit well with the owner. So root for an embarassing result that might help prompt Irsay to make a change.
- Root for the Colts to avoid the sweep. Or, if you’re so inclined to never, ever, ever, ever root for your favorite team to lose no matter if it’s the best long-term thing for them, root for them to avoid the sweep by the Jaguars. As a matter of fact, the Colts have only been swept in a season series once by the Jaguars, and that was in 2011 when the Colts were quarterbacked by Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky in those games. To be swept by the Jaguars with Andrew Luck at quarterback would be simply inexcusable. As Chuck Pagano pointed out today, in their last 21 games the Jaguars are 2-0 against the Colts and 2-17 against everybody else. So root for this team to avoid being swept by the Jaguars and to finish 8-8 overall.
- Root for several other teams to win. Whether you’ll be rooting for the Colts to win or lose, you can root for their draft positioning regardless. What’s best for the Colts, however, is to lose this game to get a higher draft pick, as though they’re currently projected to pick 13th they could move as high as number nine or drop as low as number 19. So Colts fans should be rooting for the Panthers, Eagles, Cardinals, Bills, Vikings, and Saints to all win. If all of that happens and the Colts also lose, there’s a chance the Colts could wind up with a top ten pick when all the dust settles and the tiebreakers are determined.