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Championship Fever: Week 17

The Colts entered week 17 with a lot of uncertainty surrounding their spot in the playoffs. On Sunday morning they were on the outside looking in, but after the Dolphins’ loss to the Bills in the 1:00 game, the Colts found themselves a win against the Jaguars away from the postseason.

There were a few hiccups along the way, but at the end of the day, the Colts were able to defeat the Jaguars 28-14 and secure the 7th seed in the AFC. This playoff-bound Colts team heads to Buffalo this weekend for a Saturday afternoon game against the Bills.

It only gets more challenging from here, but the Colts were able to make it to the playoffs. Let’s check in on the thermometer after week 17.


POSITIVES

Well, step one to any championship run would be to make the playoffs. It is almost unbelievable how close some of these AFC teams are in terms of record, and it took an expansion of the playoffs for the Colts to even make it at 11-5.

Regardless of how they got in, they did it and they are one of 14 teams that have a chance to win it all.

As far as the Jacksonville game goes, the major storyline was Jonathan Taylor. Taylor had the best game of his career and one of the best games by a running back in the history of the NFL. Taylor had 30 carries and ran for 253 yards which is tied for the ninth-most in NFL history. He also ran for two touchdowns and was averaging 8.4 yards per carry.

Taylor played an absolutely dominant game on Sunday, and his name will surely be called continuously against the Bills.

As for the rest of the offense, there was nothing to write home about. The defense, however, had a couple of impact plays and players.

In my mind, the biggest impact player of the game was Darius Leonard who had 10 tackles, eight solo tackles, a sack, and two passes defended. Maybe his biggest play of the game was a forced fumble on Mike Glennon, the Jaguars quarterback, which was recovered by TJ Carrie and brought back deep into Jacksonville territory.

To no one’s surprise, DeForest Buckner also had a quality game on Sunday. He recorded two sacks and had a pass defended at the line of scrimmage. He is a massive presence and though he’s listed as questionable, he should be healthy enough to play on Saturday. The Colts will certainly need him to apply some pressure on Josh Allen.

Overall, the defense more or less got the job done on Sunday, and it was actually the offense that needed to step it up a bit. Jonathan Taylor had a phenomenal game, but the rest of the offense was not impressive by any means.


NEGATIVES

Entering the game, the Colts already knew that the Dolphins were getting destroyed by the Bills, and they were just a win away from the playoffs.

I was surprised that they did not look very dominant against a much lesser opponent in a must-win game. It was actually a little stressful to watch in the third quarter.

Philip Rivers did not look particularly great in this game completing 17 passes on 27 attempts for just 164 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. The interception came on a deep ball attempt to TY Hilton that was under-thrown.

On defense, I continue to worry about the secondary, especially since the Colts are playing against Josh Allen this week.

Both Rock Ya-Sin and Khari Willis were missing from the Jaguars game which could have had something to do with it. Unfortunately, Ya-Sin will not be playing on Saturday due to a concussion. Willis, however, has cleared his concussion protocol and will be available on Saturday. It is assumed that Carrie will take Ya-Sin’s spot at cornerback.

On special teams, Rodrigo Blankenship missed 2 of his 4 field goal attempts. His first miss was a 56-yard attempt that was straight as an arrow but short of the crossbar. The second miss was a 49-yard attempt that hit the right upright.

Blankenship has the accuracy for shorter attempts, but he does not seem to have enough leg to hit some of the deeper kicks. His field goals could certainly make a difference in any game this postseason. That is six points that were left on the field by the Colts on Sunday.

At the end of the day the defense got it done against the Jaguars, but what concerns me is that Mike Glennon somehow had a better game than Philip Rivers. Rivers had a bad game and the Colts will need him in a big way on Saturday.

The Colts will have their hands full for the remainder of the year, however long that lasts. They will no longer be playing against any easy teams and they are starting their postseason off with one of the toughest teams in the AFC. Should be challenging to say the least.


FEVER

I realize that the Colts took care of the first step and were able to make the playoffs. I realize the Colts ended the season 11-5 which is one of their best records in years. I realize that Jonathan Taylor just ran for over 250 yards in a game. However, the Colts are in for a world of trouble if they play like they did against the Jaguars. The Colts will have to play against teams like the Bills and Chiefs to even make the Super Bowl. I know they have the players and the coach that can beat absolutely any team in the NFL. I truly believe that. The question is: Will the Colts be able to stop these gunslinging quarterbacks from throwing for over 350 passing yards? I honestly think that the answer to that question is “No”. I’ll believe it once I see it. The key to this Bills game is handing the ball off to Jonathan Taylor to control the clock, and make the throws when you need them most. The Colts need to keep the ball out of Josh Allen’s hands as much as possible.

I will be keeping the thermometer at the same place as last week because I need the Colts to give me a reason to heat it up. They were fortunate enough for the Dolphins' loss, and they did not play like a championship team against a one-win Jaguars team. If they can take out the mighty Bills, you better believe the thermometer will be heating up. I just need to see that the Colts can compete against these AFC monsters.