Let’s address one thing right out of the gate. Streaks in the NFL or any sport are sometimes a bit silly. Especially when considering the record of a team over time. They often get far overvalued, especially considering that they involve different players, coaching staffs, and totally different circumstances. What is undeniable, is the impact these streaks have on the mentality and nerves of fan bases.
Fans will play a major role in the upcoming game against the Chiefs, because Arrowhead is a notoriously tough venue to play in, and the fans will undoubtedly be frothy. They will also be on alert, because of their devastating history against Indianapolis in the playoffs. Their impact on the game cannot be understated, and the Colts know all about how much the looming spectre of a team can affect the way a game is viewed.
Over the past two weeks, Luck and the Colts have continued a couple of the types of “streaks” which can grow to haunt fan bases, and they’ll be looking to add one more to their list. In week 17 of the regular season with the playoffs on the line, Luck led his team to a road win over the Titans which marked his 11th win over the franchise. He is a perfect 11-0 against the Titans.
Does that streak matter in terms of how teams match up? Probably not. But if you really believe that no one has that in the back of their mind as they are taking the field, you’re kidding yourself. Sports are as much about belief and mental strength as they are about physical ability. That doubt fuels some and crushes others. Andrew Luck is like a demon for the Titans, and they haven’t yet found a way to exorcise him.
The following week the Colts met the Texans in their Wild Card round. The Texans don’t have such a miserable lot in the Colts as the Titans do, but what they do have is a complete inability to handle receiver T.Y. Hilton. In his career, he has feasted on the Texans, specifically in their own stadium. Even when they know it is coming, there seems to be nothing they can do to stop him from rolling over their defenses, often having his best games of the year on the road in Houston.
In a game where a loss meant an exit from the playoffs, the outcome was no different. Despite Hilton having missed the entire week’s practice and not at his healthiest, he still amassed 85 yards on 5 catches to move the ball early and help the Colts jump out to a two score lead that they would never relinquish. It wasn’t a secret, and it didn’t seem to matter. Hilton showed up with a clown mask to the stadium, signaling that he intended to go off, and the Texans still couldn’t stop him.
Which brings us to the Colts undefeated streak of wins against the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs. Against the Colts, the Chiefs are 0-4 in the playoffs. They are on an 8-game losing streak in the playoffs. What impact does that have on the team? It is tough to say. They’ll field questions about it all week. It will be on their minds, if only at the back of them. Many of the players had no role in most of those losses.
Regardless of all that, they ultimately know that the pressure to break that streak falls on their shoulders. The playoffs carry plenty of their own pressure. This is a win or go home game, and that is no small thing. This team, this fan base, and everyone watching in Arrowhead Stadium on Saturday knows what the stakes are and what the history is.
They will be desperately hoping this is the team who can move them past this awful streak and on to success. They already know from the Colts’ ridiculous Wild Card comeback in 2013 that Andrew Luck doesn’t crack under the pressure, he thrives under it. He has known it since joining the league.
Over the past several games, he has put together his own streak. A streak comprised of continuing the devastating streaks of his opponents.
On Saturday, we’ll see if he can do it again.