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Colts look to keep playoff hopes alive vs. Cowboys

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports

Last week’s win against the Houston Texans was a crucial victory for the Colts’ push to the playoffs. The Dallas Cowboys will be visiting Indianapolis on Sunday following a five game winning streak over some of the league’s best teams. A Colts win is essential for any shot at an appearance in the postseason.

“Obviously, against a tough opponent in the Dallas Cowboys who are on a pretty good roll right now,” Colts head coach Frank Reich said on Wednesday. “A good challenge for us.”

The Colts have looked poised and confident in winning six of their last seven games, including the 24-21 win against the Texans in the battle for the AFC South.

Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus came to Indianapolis after six years with Dallas and has fine-tuned the Colts secondary to become one of the better defenses in the league. Eberflus has taken the Colts defense to 11th overall, 15th in passing defense and eighth in stopping the run.

Quarterback Andrew Luck is having one of his best seasons and had a phenomenal game against Houston last week, completing 27 of 41 attempts for 399 yards and two touchdowns.

“We have a lot of respect for Dallas,” Luck said on Wednesday. “What they do on the defensive side of the football presents a big challenge. They have a really strong defensive line. They have a great core of linebackers – guys who can cover and guys who can run. But I think we are also keeping the focus on ourselves and what we are doing and not getting too caught up in our opponent or if they’re on a hot streak or not on a hot streak.”

The Dallas secondary is fully capable of stunting Luck’s ability to make big plays. Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott combined with the ability of receiver Amari Cooper could be enough to takeover the game. Cooper is returning from a career high performance against Philadelphia with three touchdowns and 217 receiving yards.

It’s clear that the Colts cannot afford to lose games if they want a shot in the playoffs. Andrew Luck will have to keep the offense spread out and Indy will need to utilize the skills of linebackers Darius Leonard and Anthony Walker to slow down Dak Prescott. Safety Clayton Geathers will remain questionable for tomorrow’s game with a knee injury.

“I’ll be honest we are not looking past this game,” Luck said. “So for this game to be at home, yeah that’s big. It’s big, especially coming off the road in December, meaningful football games and it’s exciting. Lucas Oil has been rocking this year so we are appreciative of that and excited to play at home.”