At the midpoint of this season the Colts stand at 5-2 and atop the AFC South, amid a conference full of teams that are beset by injuries and plagued with mediocrity. The AFC East, West, and North have 4 combined teams with a record of .500 or better. That means that a playoff spot is wide open and the Colts are well on their way to getting there if they can maintain their current trajectory.
Despite their early success, they’ve struggled through close games, not yet proving themselves a dominant force on the field. For that reason, they don’t yet have full confidence from everyone in terms of their rankings. If they can keep their run going, that could definitely change in the coming weeks. Let’s take a look at how they stack up in this week’s rankings.
Player who needs to step up: Parris Campbell, WR
Campbell, a speedster out of Ohio State, has been dealing with injuries most of his rookie season. He missed a significant portion of training camp due to a hamstring injury and just returned from a two-game absence following abdominal surgery. Campbell, a second-round pick, is the perfect player to fit in coach Frank Reich’s offensive scheme because he can be used a number of ways. But he has totaled only 10 receptions for 62 yards in five games this season. A strong second half of the season will help Campbell move up the depth chart, where there’s no obvious No. 2 receiver behind T.Y. Hilton.
”The throw was stinking impressive.” That’s how Colts coach Frank Reich described Jacoby Brissett’s 35-yard sideline strike to T.Y. Hilton late in the fourth quarter against Denver, a completion that came after Brissett dodged a potential game-deciding sack by Von Miller, rolled to his right and found his favorite receiver. Two plays later, a suspect horse-collar tackle penalty on the Broncos moved Indy to the fringe of field-goal territory, and Adam Vinatieri completed a topsy-turvy day with a 51-yard kick to put the Colts ahead with 22 seconds to play. Vinatieri missed an earlier field-goal attempt and a PAT try that would have tied the game 13 in the third quarter. His inconsistency remains a concern for the Colts, but this was another Sunday where Indy found a way. All five of Indy’s wins have been by seven points or less, with three of those victories decided by three points or less.
It wasn’t pretty, but the Colts had a letdown spot after a big win over the Texans and still escaped with another win over the Broncos. And with J.J. Watt’s season-ending injury, the Colts are the clear favorite in the AFC South.
They’re among league’s most mystifying, vexing squads to analyze on week-to-week basis. Yet Indy should roll to AFC South crown. Right?
There are two ways you can look at the Colts’ ugly two-point win over a bad Denver Broncos team.
On one hand, it’s a tad alarming they needed a last-second field goal to beat a team that got trounced by the Matt Moore-led Kansas City Chiefs in Week 7. Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett had one of his poorer performances of the season, passing for just 202 yards without a touchdown while losing a fumble.
On the other hand, there are games during every season in which teams don’t put forth their best effort. The difference between good teams and bad teams is that the good ones find a way to gut out victories in those contests. That’s what the Colts did Sunday to stay in first place in the AFC South.
”The Colts showed some vulnerabilities Sunday against the Broncos,” Davenport said. “But the team also showed resiliency in finding a way to eke out a win. Given what happened to the Texans on Sunday (J.J. Watt’s injury), I’m more convinced than ever that the Colts are the class of their division, even if they didn’t really look the part in Week 8.”
AFC South Rival Rankings
USA Today: 8
Bleacher Report: 10
USA Today: 17
Bleacher Report: 17
USA Today: 19
Bleacher Report: 22