INDIANAPOLIS – Things are getting pretty simple in Indianapolis.
Win one more game and the Colts are in the playoffs. Win the next two and Bruce Arians sets the NFL record for wins by an interim head coach. Win all three and they’re AFC South champs with a home playoff game.
The first hurdle is a big one: Sunday at Houston.
I think they know what’s on the line, and they’ve got a lot of pride. They were going to play anyway, whether they won or lost (Monday night), Arians said Wednesday, referring to the Texans. This is a pretty good rivalry, and we’re going to get everything they’ve got and their crowd and everybody else.
Especially after the Texans’ disastrous performance at New England.
Most NFL observers expected the Texans (11-2) to be in this position in mid-December, trying to wrap up a second straight division crown and fine-tuning things for a postseason run.
But few, if any, expected the rebuilt Colts (9-4) to be Houston’s nearest challenger in the AFC South, especially after a tumultuous offseason.
Indianapolis is 9-4 overall and 8-2 under Arians, winning three of five road games and seven of their last eight. The Colts have a league-high eight wins in one-possession games, and Luck already owns NFL rookie records for most 300-yard games (six), most fourth-quarter comebacks (six) and most wins by the No. 1 overall choice since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. He needs 260 passing yards to break the league’s single-season rookie record, trailing Cam Newton’s 4,051 yards from 2011.
Indianapolis’ three road wins have come against Tennessee, Jacksonville and Detroit – teams that are a combined 10-29.
The Colts’ most impressive win came Oct. 7 when Luck rallied the Colts for a victory over Green Bay. The Colts have only one other win over a team with a winning record, Week 2 against Minnesota (7-6).
So the head-to-head showdown between Luck and the Texans could be a solid measuring stick for the Colts.
For us, a chance to solidify a playoff spot, Luck said. Obviously the division is not sown up completely from what I understand and it’s against, from our perspective, one of the premier teams in the AFC. We are going to have to bring our A’ game.
For the Texans, stinging from the 42-14 rout by the Patriots, a victory would allow them to take another step toward clinching the AFC’s top seed and would help reassert their image as a Super Bowl favorite.
For the Colts, it’s an opportunity to show they can go toe-to-toe with the league’s top teams, home or away, with or without injuries.
This game is like no other, defensive end Cory Redding said. The Texans are a great opponent. These guys have great weapons on both sides of the ball.
Note: The Colts signed offensive guard Robert Griffin to their active roster. The 6-foot-6, 330-pound rookie was drafted by the Jets in the sixth round in April. He was waived Aug. 31.