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Power Rankings Week 7: Who exactly are these Colts?

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NFL: AFC Wild Card-Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Colts spent this week on bye, nursing injuries and getting physically and mentally prepared for the grind that will be the remaining weeks of the regular season. At the national level, no one is quite sure what to make of this Colts team yet. Their past two weeks have been dramatically different, with a home loss to the Oakland Raiders in which they seemed unprepared and over-matched, followed by a beat-down of the vaunted Chiefs on the road.

The question on everyone’s lips so far is, which of these teams is the true one? That’s something we won’t know for many more weeks, but this Sunday will present a perfect opportunity to make a strong case that they’re the team who beat the Chiefs handily. They’ll face the surging Houston Texans, a team that followed in the Colts’ footsteps, walking into Arrowhead and delivering another loss to the Chiefs.

Deshaun Watson will be a tough guy to deal with, but familiarity plays a role here. This is a game with playoff implications, and it’ll go a long way toward settling who the top dog in the AFC South is. Until then, here’s what the national media had to say about the Colts.

ESPN has the Colts holding at 15th.

The Colts are 27th in the NFL in takeaways with just five. That’s a significant drop-off from last season, when their 26 takeaways were good enough for 10th in the league. The returns of linebacker Darius Leonard and safety Malik Hooker, the team’s two best defensive playmakers, should help in that area. Leonard, who forced four fumbles in 2018, was cleared to return after missing the previous three games with a concussion. Hooker, who has an interception this season, could return as early as this week after missing the past two games with a knee injury.

NFL.com has the Colts at 14th.

The Colts could have been crushed by Andrew Luck’s retirement, but quality play by Jacoby Brissett and one of the league’s best running games has kept Indy moving forward. Only two teams in the league run the ball more than the Colts, who are averaging close to 32 rushing attempts per game. The bell cow here is Marlon Mack, who has had a Christian McCaffrey-level workload through the team’s first five games. Entering Week 6, Mack and McCaffrey were the only running backs in football with at least 100 rushing attempts. Mack isn’t delivering CMC-level production (nobody is), but he’s making the most of his new role: Mack ranked fifth in the NFL in rushing yards (470) through five weeks.

Yahoo! Sports has the Colts ranked 15th.

Eagles at Cowboys is probably the marquee game of Week 7. Not far behind is Texans at Colts. Like the NFC East matchup, the AFC South looks more and more like a two-team race, and Sunday’s game will go a long way in determining who wins it.

USA Today has the Colts at 15th.

Coming out of bye, club currently just outside playoff picture hits crucial stretch with four of five at Lucas Oil. First up, the Texans.

Bleacher Report has the Colts at 12th.

The Indianapolis Colts are riding high.

The Colts headed into the bye week fresh off easily their best performance of the year—a six-point win over the previously undefeated Kansas City Chiefs in which the Colts dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.

It gets even better. The week off comes at a good time, as when the Colts return to action in Week 7 in a huge AFC South matchup against the Houston Texans, the team will have at least one important contributor back on the field. Reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year Darius Leonard cleared concussion protocol earlier this week and will line up at weak-side linebacker against the Texans.

When Andrew Luck surprisingly retired before the season, many people believed that any chance the Colts had of making a deep playoff run left with him.

Jacoby Brissett appears to have taken that as a personal slight. He has 10 touchdown passes against just three interceptions and has posted a passer rating of almost 95.


AFC South Rivals

Texans

ESPN: 7

NFL.com: 6

Yahoo!: 8

USA Today: 5

Bleacher Report: 6

Jaguars

ESPN: 23

NFL.com: 21

Yahoo!: 23

USA Today: 21

Bleacher Report: 22

Titans

ESPN: 22

NFL.com: 24

Yahoo!: 26

USA Today: 28

Bleacher Report: 28