Raise your hand if you legitimately thought the Indianapolis Colts would be playing for the AFC South lead as late as Week 16...Liar!
Ok, you might have thought going into the season that Anthony Richardson would catch fire, be the new rookie sensation, and the Colts would go from a seemingly worst to first type of season. Hey, it happens. The Texans were technically “worst”, and at the end of the day, they might end up in first with a rookie sensation. With that said, the Colts have not found themselves with as much fortune.
Richardson went down early and often with the knockout blow coming before he could establish any true footing in the league. The best player on offense went through an incredible amount of drama and missed half of the current games. One of your best run stuffers got suspended for six games. There have been multiple suspensions and injuries of other players along the way as well. Throw in a rookie head coach to lead a 4-12-1 team to round it all out.
Take all of that, and tell me that you thought the Colts would be in this position. Go on... Well, maybe you did, but I sure didn’t. Now, all of a sudden, the Colts have a chance to grab the AFC South lead from the Jaguars and create some distance between themselves and the Texans. Both Trevor Lawrence and C.J. Stroud are dealing with concussions and are on track to miss this Sunday. I am certainly not rooting for a concussion or any other injury, but at the same time, I don’t have a terrible amount of sympathy either. The Colts have dealt with more than their fair share of injuries this year. Every team has to battle injuries at some point in a season.
The Jaguars will be without Lawrence as they head to the NFC South leading Buccaneers while the Texans host Cleveland. The Texans were able to weather the storm last week in overtime, but the Browns are better than the Titans. As Colts fans can attest, being without your starting quarterback doesn’t mean an automatic loss, but it sure makes things a lot more difficult. The Jaguars are already in freefall mode, so losing one of their best players isn’t going to make matters any better. Also, do we really believe Stroud wouldn’t give the Texans their best chance to win? Of course he does. Who doesn’t feel better about their franchise quarterback under center?
That is what the Colts need to capitalize on if they get help from the Browns and Buccaneers. It all starts with the team handling its own business, however, against the Falcons. If they lose, a golden opportunity slips away. A loss means they wouldn’t only fail to potentially capture the division lead. The Jaguars and Texans could ultimately win this week which would prove disastrous in their quest for the crown. It would also put their Wild Card aspirations in a bind. The AFC is still extremely tight and more distance at this late junction could prove to be too much to overcome.
This week, like every subsequent week, is crucial. What makes this one even more so is the fact that the Colts have the chance to pull off the improbable. They have an opportunity in front of them with two banged up divisional foes facing stiff competition. This is the week to move into the lead in the AFC South and stand there alone. If that happens, the Colts control their own destiny. Of course, we saw that two years ago with a home matchup with the Raiders, but times have changed. This is a team of destiny. Will they seize it?