The Indianapolis Colts had it all in front of them. Beat the Falcons on the road, and continue to control their playoff destiny. A loss could have devastating effects. A shot at the AFC South crown could be lost, the ever tightening AFC could push them out of the playoff seeding, and a season of unexpected hope could turn sour in an instant. Well, we all witnessed the disappointing loss. That was the bad news. The good news is that if there was ever a week to lose, this was it.
Of course you can say, “Well, if they would have won, they could have taken control of the AFC South and created even more distance between themselves and the other teams chasing the playoffs.” To that I say, “No, duh.” Unfortunately, that did not happen, so instead of focusing on what they missed out on, let’s take a look at what they gained.
First off, they lost to an NFC opponent. That is huge. With so many tie-breaking scenarios in a jumbled mess that is the AFC, losing outside of your conference is the best possible outcome. That is what has kept them in the playoff picture the last few weeks.
Secondly, and more importantly, the teams they needed to lose, lost. Unlike last week, the Colts got almost everything they needed to happen this time. With the exception of the Bills pulling it out against the Chargers, this weekend went beautifully. Things started early with the Steelers beating the Bengals. That was perfect as the Colts had already created some distance between themselves and the Steelers and had lost to the Bengals. That sent the Bengals into a freefall in the standings with a date against the Chiefs on the road next week while the Steelers head to Seattle.
Next up, the Browns dismantled the Texans. The final score wasn’t indicative of the total beatdown that occurred with the Browns being up 36-7 at one point. Sure the Texans didn’t have their starting quarterback in this one, but heck, who does anymore? They were unable to create magic like they did against the Titans the week prior.
The late games held even more good news as the Jaguars looked lost against the Buccaneers. The Jaguars were never in the game being down 0-30. This is the team that might win the AFC South? Trevor Lawrence went down in this one with a shoulder injury and his future availability is in doubt. The Christmas Eve nightcap featured the Patriots at Broncos. Colts fans were giddy when the Patriots went up 23-7 only to watch the Broncos tie it up late in the fourth. Fortunately, the Patriots were able to kick the game winner to push the Broncos further down in the standings.
Yes, the loss against the Falcons stinks. The golden opportunity was lost. A chance at the division lead and firmer footing in the playoffs could not be gained. The loss happened, however, so the only thing left to hope for is exactly what occurred. The teams around them lost and created a continued chance at the playoffs and division. There is no margin of error left, however, as the Colts will most likely not find themselves with as much fortune if they lose again.