We’re 7 games into the season. So far, we’ve traveled to the west coast twice and split those games; we’ve beaten the NFC representative in last season’s Super Bowl; we’ve beaten 2 teams that many regard as the “best in football”; we’ve lost 2 games that we probably should have won; and, at 5-2, we haven’t yet hit the “soft spot” in our schedule. Coming off a very emotional victory on Sunday night, I have to ask, “what’s next”? Where do we go from here? Is this team a legitimate Super Bowl contender, or has the injury bug finally caught up with them? Does beating the Manning-led Broncos propel us over the top, or does the injury to Reggie Wayne take all air out of the balloon?
Injuries are part of football. Whether it’s a “big numbers” guy who gets injured, or whether it’s an “emotional leader”, teams have to persevere – and there are examples of Super Bowl teams who did just that – persevered their way to becoming world champions. Look no further than the 2011 Green Bay Packers. The team placed 15 players on injured reserve during the year including players such as WR Donald Driver; CB Charles Woodson; TE Jermichael Finley; LB Nick Barnett; and RB Ryan Grant. The Colts seem to be the type of team that has the mental makeup to get over their injuries and still elevate to the next level. Look at what they did when their coach went down last year. The loss of players provides opportunities for others to step in. Look at Jerrell Freeman last season. He stepped in for an injured Pat Angerer and excelled. Opportunities open up and players will do their best to take those opportunities. The bottom line is that the team cannot allow injuries to derail them. Yes, we are incredibly short at key positions including running back and wide receiver. Still, it was an injury to Ahmad Bradshaw that gave Donald Brown more playing time, and he has played very well. Perhaps an opportunity will open for RB Daniel Herron, or WR David Reed, or WR Da’Rick Rogers. If so, they have to step up and take it.
We have an open roster spot and I would love to see Da’Rick Rogers get an extended look. I wrote about him a few weeks ago. If I’m the Colts, he would be my first option. I’m showing the Colts cap at just over $4M right now and we still have more than half the season to go. We also have 2014 draft considerations that must fit into this cap number. As such, I don’t see the team splurging on a trade. They already lost their 2014 1st round draft pick in the Trent Richardson trade (which is still a good trade for all the naysayers out there). Don’t expect the Colts to trade for a big name receiver. We should go with what we have and see where it takes us. Everyone has to step it up a notch.
Here is the good news…..we have a “soft spot” in our schedule that is almost upon us. I certainly hope the team doesn’t consider it a “soft spot” as they run the risk of overlooking opponents and losing (San Diego, Miami). If they play within themselves, here is what I expect in the next few weeks:
- 11/3 at Texans – The Texans need this game more than us; however, with QB questions and a few key injuries, I think we will win this one and take a commanding lead in the AFC South.
- 11/10 vs. Rams – Bradford is out for the year. The Rams aren’t as good as I thought, even with Bradford. Colts win.
- 11/14 at Titans – We’re better than Tennessee, but this could be a tough one on the road. That said, we would potentially be 7-2 with a lot of confidence entering this one. I say it’s a win.
- 11/24 at Cardinals – We should win this game as we’re better than Arizona. Emotions will run high as we meet up with last year’s interim coach. It will be a battle, but we should win.
- 12/1 vs. Titans – We won’t let Tennessee beat us at home. Period.
If the above occurs as I played it out, we will be 10-2! We should also have the division clinched as, at worst, we will have a 4 game lead over Tennessee and Houston with 4 games to play. We will own the tiebreaker over Tennessee (by beating them twice). We could have a 5 game lead over Houston (they have a tough game against New England on 12/1). At worst, even if Houston continues to win through 12/1, we will have a 4 game lead over them. If we lose to Houston at home in week 15, we will not lose to Jacksonville at home in week 17. Thus, at worst, we will tie them in overall record, tie them in divisional record, but hold tiebreakers over them with our wins against Seattle and San Francisco (who they lost to) and their likely loss to Denver in week 16. The bottom line – win our next 5 and we’ll win our division.
I’m looking way further ahead than I like, but I want to let everyone know of the exciting possibilities.
Lots of information for one post. Read it and take it all in!