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NFL Power Rankings Week 16: Colts crack the top ten after their shutout win

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Indianapolis Colts Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Colts have been playing solid football since starting their season 1-5. They are looking at the very real possibility of becoming just the 3rd team since the merger to make the playoffs after starting with a 1-5 record. If they can get there, they are primed to do some damage, and the national media are beginning to take note. When you punch “America’s” team in the mouth, it tends to get people’s attention. Let’s see what they have to say about this Colts team.

ESPN has the Colts up to 9th from 12th.

Biggest breakthrough: Offensive line. Finally. The line has gone from being a weak link during the first six years of Andrew Luck’s career to being a strength of the Colts this season. That group has given up only 16 sacks, second fewest in the NFL, after giving up a league-high 56 last season. Improved line play has played a significant factor in helping the Colts to a top-10 total and scoring offense.

CBS Sports has the Colts up to 9th from 10th.

If the Colts win out and the Ravens lose one, they will be in the playoffs. They will be a scary team if they make it.

NFL.com has the Colts 8th up from 11th.

Hmm. Think the Colts sent a message on Sunday. Indy enters the top 10 for the first time in years with a rout of the Cowboys. The last time Indy shut out an opponent, Bjoern Werner got a sack. That tells you how long ago that was (Week 7, 2014). DC Matt Eberflus dialed up all the right calls in stonewalling the Cowboys’ offense, particularly when it mattered. It helps when you play against your former employers. Dallas dominated time of possession in the first half -- and put up exactly nil to show for it. Colts running back Marlon Mack played wingman to Eberflus’ defensive effort, rushing 27 times for 139 yards and two tugs. Can’t wait until that Week 17 beauty in Nashville. Colts will win that sucker, too.

USA Today has the Colts at 6th up from 12th.

Andrew Luck hasn’t been at his best lately, but this team managed to knock off league’s hottest clubs (Texans, Cowboys) in successive weeks.

Bleacher Report has the Colts ranked 10th up from 11th.

Back on October 14, the Indianapolis Colts fell 42-34 to the hapless New York Jets—a game that dropped the team to 1-5.

The Colts were done. Finished. Donesville.

Since then, however, the Colts have peeled off seven wins in eight games, with the latest being a shutout victory over the surging Dallas Cowboys that was Week 15’s most impressive win.

The Colts absolutely dominated the line of scrimmage offensively, paving the way for a huge game (27/139/2) from tailback Marlon Mack. The defense showed up as well, making a handful of big plays in crucial moments to keep the Cowboys off the scoreboard.

As things stand right now, the Colts remain on the outside looking in in the AFC bracket. But while Indy’s schedule to close things out is manageable (New York Giants, at Tennessee), the Baltimore Ravens travel to L.A. to face the Chargers and then host a red-hot Cleveland Browns team.

If the Colts can play over the next two weeks like they have over the last two, the playoffs are a real possibility.