After back-to-back convincing wins, the national media is beginning to come on board with the idea that this Colts team is for real. A comeback win over the Packers proved that this team can win against top opponents, and they didn’t even get a stellar performance down the stretch, as the offense did their best to hold the game away late. Whether this team is truly a legitimate contender will be cemented in the coming weeks, with a big bout looming against the Steelers that could truly shed the long-running mantle of the little brother in the AFC that the Colts have held since Peyton Manning left town. Here is how the Colts stack up in the week 12 power rankings.
Top-ranked defense and Indianapolis are words that haven’t been in the same sentence too much over the years. But the Colts have a legitimate defense that has spent a significant portion of the season ranked No. 1 in the NFL. The unit, led by linebacker Darius Leonard and lineman DeForest Buckner, has forced 17 turnovers (12 interceptions, five fumble recoveries) this season, which are tied for the second most in the league.
The Colts didn’t author a masterpiece on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, but results matter more. Indy is 7-3 after a 34-31 overtime win over the Packers, a game that showed a fighting spirit in Frank Reich’s team. The Packers piled up 28 points and took a 14-point lead into halftime, but the Colts shut down Aaron Rodgers and Co. after that. Indianapolis forced four turnovers on the day, none bigger than Julian Blackmon’s expert strip of Marquez Valdes-Scantling that set up Rodrigo Blankenship’s game-winning kick in overtime. Back-to-back wins over the Titans and Packers have set up Indy well — if they can complete the sweep of Tennessee on Sunday, they’ll be in excellent position for their first division title in six years.
That was an impressive come-from-behind victory against the Packers. They dominated the second half.
I was tempted to vault them into the No. 1 spot once I realized they play U2 to celebrate victories at Lucas Oil Stadium. Thankfully, my professionalism kicked in for a change.
There were a lot of positives on Sunday. Jonathan Taylor had 90 yards, and that doesn’t count 32 yards and a touchdown taken away on holding penalties. The Colts had 11 players catch a pass, and rookie Michael Pittman Jr. made another big play on a touchdown. The defense allowed only a field goal after halftime and forced a turnover that won the game. This ranking feels a little high, but who behind the Colts do you really trust?
The Indianapolis Colts are having a fine season. But that season lacked a signature win over a quality opponent prior to Week 10.
Now, after blasting the Tennessee Titans and downing the Green Bay Packers in overtime on Sunday, the Colts have piled up two of those in a row.
The Colts got a true team effort against the Pack. Offensively, Indy got another solid game from veteran quarterback Philip Rivers and piled up 420 yards of total offense. Defensively, the Colts were opportunistic, grabbing four takeaways.
“While contenders like the Ravens, Dolphins and Raiders stumbled in Week 11, the Colts appear to be peaking,” Davenport said. “This week’s rematch with the Titans may well be a de facto AFC South title game, but the Colts have a fairly tough slate down the stretch that includes trips to Las Vegas and Pittsburgh. How well the team fares in those contests will go a long way toward demonstrating how far the Colts are capable of going once the calendar turns to January and the postseason starts.”
“In back-to-back weeks,” Sobleski chimed in, “the Colts managed impressive victories over the Titans and Packers. Both of those opponents are legitimate playoff squads with the Packers making a claim as the NFC’s best overall squad prior to Sunday’s contest. Indianapolis’ top-ranked defense didn’t cave to Aaron Rodgers and Co. Instead, the unit made a play when it needed one the most in overtime.”
AFC South Rankings
CBS Sports: 9
USA Today: 8
CBS Sports: 20
USA Today: 24
CBS Sports: 31
USA Today: 31