As of this writing, DraftKings Sportsbook predicts the Colts will beat the Houston Texans by 3 as they close out the 2022 season at home. Don’t get too excited; this is Vegas’ way of telling you the teams are equally bad.
It’s hard to believe that we finally have made it to this point in the season. The Colts have watched their season go completely off the rails. This team was the preseason favorite to win the AFC South for many folks, especially most Colts fans.
Outside of a season-ending flop that held them out of the playoffs in 2021, the Colts were one of the more feared teams in the NFL in the playoff hunt. Jonathan Taylor was unstoppable. The offensive line was dominant, especially in support of Taylor’s ground game. The defense was leading the league in turnovers, which gave the Colts the best turnover differential in the NFL.
So much has happened since it’s hard to see that version of the team. It’s incredible to write that the Colts should have kept Carson Wentz, but there is little question that he would have been a better option than anyone at West 56th Street today. It’s difficult to appreciate how fickle offensive line chemistry and continuity can be.
Mark Glowinski was considered the “weak link” on an otherwise dominant offensive line. No one thought Glowinksi was “bad,” just that he was surrounded by better talent. Forgive fans, and maybe even Chris Ballard, for believing a player who played well in relief on the interior like Danny Pinter might be fine when he, too, benefitted from playing around Pro Bowl-worthy talent around him. Guess what? He was wrong.
It has been written that this Colts season, Matt Ryan’s future, Nick Foles' health, Jonathan Taylor’s production, and even the offense as a whole are more likely impacted by that one decision than anything else. Some will struggle to believe it, but the failure to bring back Mark Glowsinki could very easily be the crack in the dam that led to the flood Jim Irsay and Chris Ballard are trying to control and eventually clean up.
How does that impact the Colts and Texans? Namely, the signs of cracks were apparent in Week 1. Yes, a slow start is familiar for Matt Ryan. Same for head coach Frank Reich. Yearly offensive resets will do that to you. But the Houston Texans were expected to be right where they are - in the lead for the top pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. The Colts were expected to win the AFC South and be a threat in the playoffs. This was supposed to be a schedule-makers gift to help the Colts get the early-season record monkey off their backs. Yet, they couldn’t beat the worst team in the league.
Now, NFL fans get to watch something truly dreadful. The Houston Texans hold the top pick, but the Week 1 tie puts that position at risk. A win in Indianapolis and a Chicago loss would wipe away all of that hard work. Why do that? After all, the Texans are not only in a full-scale rebuild. They are armed with incredible draft capital due to the Deshaun Watson trade.
The Texans need a QB and can pick whichever one they want if they lose on Sunday.
But wait, the Colts don’t want to win. Losing guarantees the fifth spot; a little help could move them up to third. It isn’t likely they’ll get there, but they, too, need a rookie quarterback, and they might have to trade up to get the play they want. A win makes the price they have to pay to move up steeper. Chris Ballard hates giving away assets to trade up and is likely even more apprehensive about the kind of capital he would have to forfeit to move up a few spots at the top of the draft.
Yes, we’re going to watch two teams with no desire or will to win. It’s the worst of all possible scenarios. It will be a division game that should have or could have been interesting that neither team wants to win—played between the worst two teams in the worst division in football. I don’t think TV ratings are often shared for least-watched games in an NFL season, but this one could be it.