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NFL Power Rankings Week 16: Colts Continue Their Upward Movement

NFL: New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

The Colts, coming off a late season bye, faced the number 1 seed in the AFC, the New England Patriots, and due to a heavy dose of the rushing attack and potent defense, the Colts ended a seven game Patriots winning streak.

The Colts sit at 8-6, and are currently in the 5th seed in the AFC. They're also just two games behind the AFC South leaders, the Titans, after they lost to the Steelers this week. The majority of the national media have moved the Colts further up the power rankings board, and they feature regularly inside the top 10. As an eight win team, and with losses by opposing AFC rivals, the Colts are firmly in the playoff and division conversations. Here is how the Colts stack up in the week 16 power rankings.

ESPN has the Colts at 10.

The Colts are on the brink of making the playoffs for the third time in four seasons under Reich. And for the second time in those four seasons, Reich has gotten his team to rebound from a slow start. The Colts started this season 0-3 and 1-4, and now they’re currently the No. 5 seed in the AFC with an 8-6 record. I think it is safe to say Reich isn’t going anywhere. has the Colts at 6.

Once again, it was Jonathan Taylor to the rescue. The MVP candidate busted through a box packed with defenders on the 67 yard touchdown that put the kibosh on a New England rally and clinched a massive 27-17 win on Saturday night. Frank Reich remained committed to the run down the stretch, showing a noticeable lack of faith in Carson Wentz after the quarterback threw an ugly interception earlier in the fourth quarter. Wentz’s ability to come through when it matters most remains uncertain at best, but in Taylor, the Colts have a special talent who can put the team on his back. The Colts have proven their bona fides as legit AFC contenders.

CBS Sports has the Colts at 13.

They are firmly in the playoff chase, but they come off the bye with a home game against the Patriots. That’s a proving-ground game for this team.

Pro Football Network has the Colts at 7.

The Colts play an old-school, smashmouth style of football. And teams that can dominate on offense like that are endlessly fun to watch. Frank Reich continues to steal scraps off Carson Wentz’s plate simply so his QB won’t overreact and break the table. That’s an acceptable method when the offensive line dominates, and Jonathan Taylor is on the roster.

Indy’s offense is paired perfectly with a defense that — aside from the Cowboys — takes the ball away better than anybody in the league. It’s all led by their star linebacker Darius Leonard, who has made play after play since he entered the league. Defense and a rushing attack are crucial for bad-weather playoff atmospheres, and the Colts have both in spades. Their success will ultimately come down to their quarterback.

Yahoo Sports has the Colts at 8.

One Jonathan Taylor run ended a decade-plus of the Colts getting outcoached, out-toughed, and outplayed by the Patriots. These Colts are contenders even with a Carson Wentz-sized weight around their ankles.

Bleacher Report has the Colts at 7.

So, Jonathan Taylor appears to be pretty good at the whole running the football thing. The second-year pro entered Saturday’s game leading the NFL in both rushing yards and scores on the ground. The Patriots held Taylor mostly in check for his first 28 carries. But the 29th was a backbreaker, with a 67-yard touchdown salting away the game and lifting the Colts to 8-6.

With Tennessee losing Sunday in Pittsburgh, the Colts are now just one game out of first place in the AFC South. A pair of losses to the Titans makes winning the division an uphill climb for the Colts, but Davenport believes Indianapolis is sending a message to the rest of the AFC.

“The Colts can control tempo with a dominant offensive line and the league’s best running back,” he said. “Indy’s opportunistic defense is tied for the league lead in takeaways. And while Carson Wentz hasn’t posted huge stats, he also hasn’t made a lot of mistakes with the football. This is a team that none of the division leaders want any part of on Wild Card Weekend.” Gagnon went so far as to slot Indy inside the top five.

“Indy’s only regulation loss since Week 3 was a valiant effort against the Bucs in which the team scored 31 points,” Gagnon wrote. “They compete hard every week and will be a tough out in January. They wouldn’t be a top-five team in a lot of other years, but this has been a damn weird one.”