According to NFL Network Analytics Expert Cynthia Frelund, the Indianapolis Colts’ Week 15 matchup against the New England Patriots next weekend on Saturday, December 18th, is among the ‘Six Most Impactful Games Left in the 2021 NFL Season’—with potential major AFC playoff implications:
New England Patriots
WHEN: Saturday, Dec. 18 at 8:15 p.m. ET | NFL Network
The Patriots could basically determine how the entire playoff picture pans out, and the first domino they can knock over is imprinted with the Colts’ playoff hopes. Indy’s best path to the postseason requires topping either the Pats here or the Cardinals in Week 16, and my models forecast a greater potential for an upset vs. New England. Isolating the impact of this game, the Colts cross the 85 percent threshold if they beat the Patriots and, at the same time, deal a huge blow to the Chargers, who drop into the 29 percent range. New England’s playoff probability decreases by less than 5 percentage points with a loss, but the greater impact could be on the team’s playoff seeding.
The NFL thought this game was important enough earlier to flex it to Saturday Night—as the Colts will be at home on national television in a pivotal primetime matchup.
As it stands, the Colts (7-6) are clearly in the playoff hunt, but are currently on the outside, looking in, and need to gain some ground on at least one of the trio of 7-5 AFC playoff teams currently ‘in’: the Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, or Los Angeles Chargers, late during the 2021 campaign.
An upset win hosting the Patriots at home would go a long way toward the Colts earning an AFC playoff berth.
However, that will be a very challenging task against an always well coached Bill Belichick New England squad (9-4) that has been playing some great football as of late—especially on the defensive side of the football.
At this point, the Patriots are the frontrunner in the AFC for the Super Bowl, but that doesn’t mean the Colts can’t pull off the upset and become something of a darkhorse down the season’s stretch.