A little bit of optimism doesn’t go a long way in Indianapolis.
Colts fans know the feeling all too well: the one or two games that restore hope for a playoff run. In 2021, it wasn’t until week four that they secured a win against a sloppy Miami team. On a freezing afternoon in Buffalo, the Colts steamrolled the Bills. Jonathan Taylor scored five touchdowns and rushed for over 200 yards against the number two seed in the AFC. Those games can’t help but fill us with hope. But flash forward just a couple of weeks and the Colts fizzled out, losing not one, but two chances to secure a playoff spot, including a grueling loss to…yes, the Jaguars. It’s a familiar tune.
This season began just like the last. Two weeks of disappointing losses to teams that the Colts should’ve defeated handily. After yet another loss to Jacksonville, Colts fans once again found themselves on an emotional rollercoaster.
But last Sunday’s home opener against Kansas City revealed a different team than the two weeks prior. They looked loose, inspired. It was the best defensive performance of the season. KC quarterback Patrick Mahomes was under constant pressure and the Chiefs’ rush attack struggled, averaging only 2.5 yards per carry. Again we saw what this team is capable of, and we are left with the cautiously optimistic feeling that always seems to falter when it counts.
Now we enter week four vs. Tennessee with the same feeling as usual: will we see a competent Colts team that is capable of competing with the AFC’s elite, or will we see the Colts that can’t get out of their own way?
There are a couple of factors we have to consider. Number one: injuries. The Colts released their injury report for this week on Thursday, and it’s concerning, to say the least. Julian Blackmon, DeForest Buckner, Jonathan Taylor, Stephon Gilmore, and Shaquille Leonard are all iffy for Sunday’s game. This afternoon’s press conference will give us a better look at who is cleared to play, but missing any key starters could give Tennessee the edge.
Number two: fight for the division. The Titans are entering the game at 1-2, and whoever wins will rise to the top of the AFC South. This game could very well set the tone for the rest of the season, which is hopefully the beginning of a winning streak.
It will be interesting to watch this matchup of two teams competing in an ailing division. Titans running back Derrick Henry is always a factor, but we all know that Jonathan Taylor can carry a game on his back. It will be a battle of who will control the ground game.
The bottom line is that Sunday’s game will give us a look into where the rest of the season is headed. The first quarter of the season is coming to a close, and the Colts are coming off a huge win. If they can control the ball, stifle the Titans’ run game, and give Matt Ryan the chance for a repeat performance, that might be enough for a win and another dose of much-needed optimism.