A week ago, the Colts needed to prove to themselves and the rest of the NFL world that they were capable of beating a team with a winning record. They needed a statement win.
They flew out of Buffalo having accomplished both. They were the better team in all three phases. They created four turnovers, including two interceptions against a quarterback who many thought would step forward as the top player at his position this season. They ran the ball at will in Buffalo and Jonathan Taylor has taken the throne as the best running back in the NFL — which could remain true even after Derrick Henry returns to the field.
This Colts team has a new opportunity against the Bucs. Winning back-to-back games against AFC favorites, including the defending Super Bowl champions, would give Indianapolis the hottest franchise in the NFL. The team would become favorite to earn a wildcard playoff berth and head into Week 13 against a struggling Houston Texans team with their long-awaited, and desperately needed, bye on the other side.
It’s clear this is a team with a chip on its shoulder and one that is on a mission to prove to the world that should be respected.
The Bucs want to get right. They need to stop the bleeding after a tough stretch. They need to beat a hot team on the road in order to maintain their status as a team to beat in the NFC. They’re currently third overall in the NFC and would surely like to have a chance at a first-round bye as the regular season draws closer to an end. Losing to Indianapolis will make that harder. Games against the Bills and a Saints team that has already beaten them once remain on the schedule and the Cardinals remain squarely in the driver’s seat.
Can the Colts’ offensive line open up holes for Jonathan Taylor to get him going? Can Tom Brady exploit a passing defense that has appeared comfortable allowing short passes and more concerned with stopping big plays?
Well find out soon enough, but for now, the Bucs are favored by 3-points.
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