ANDERSON, Ind. —
It’s a two-game season.
That’s the mantra adopted by the Indianapolis Colts after their AFC South championship dreams folded Sunday with a 29-17 loss at the Houston Texans.
It’s a brief amount of time, but there are plenty of interesting possibilities.
There are two simple scenarios in which the Colts (9-5) can clinch a playoff berth this weekend. The first, and most straightforward, is a victory at the Kansas City Chiefs (2-12) on Sunday. But Indianapolis can still get in through a side door with a Cincinnati Bengals (8-6) win against the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7).
“We need to get in the playoffs,” Colts interim head coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians told the media Monday. “That’s all we’re thinking about is getting there. We’re not there, yet.”
No, but they’re awfully close.
The Tennessee Titans’ ugly 14-10 victory against the New York Jets eliminated one of the major potential obstacles in Indianapolis’ path. The Jets (6-8) could have won a head-to-head tiebreaker against the Colts because of their 35-9 victory in Week 6.
Now, the main thing keeping Indianapolis from claiming its seat at the postseason table is the uncertainty in the AFC North. Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and the Baltimore Ravens (9-5) still can win the division.
The Bengals and Steelers play each other Sunday, and Cincinnati is scheduled to travel to Baltimore in the regular-season finale. That game could be for the division championship if the Bengals beat Pittsburgh.
It’s possible, though unlikely, all three teams could tie the Colts with 9-7 records when the dust settles Dec. 30. In that scenario, Pittsburgh would win the AFC North and Baltimore would claim one of the two wild-card playoff seeds.
The deadlock between Indianapolis and Cincinnati for the final spot would come down to the league’s fourth tie-breaking criteria: Strength of victory. The Colts currently lead in that category. Their nine victories have come against teams with a combined winning percentage of .397. The Bengals’ eight wins have come against teams with a winning percentage of .339.
Those numbers could change over the final two weeks, but there are complicated scenarios in which Indianapolis can clinch that edge on Sunday.
All of that only comes into play, of course, if the Colts fail to defeat the Chiefs this week or the Texans (12-2) at home in the regular-season finale.
“We just got to take care of our own,” Indianapolis safety Antoine Bethea said. “We win, we’re in. And that’s our focus. Simple as that.”
There’s more than a playoff berth at stake this week, as well.
With a win and a Ravens’ loss to the New York Giants, the Colts can clinch the No. 5 seed in the AFC.
Why does that matter?
It’s currently the difference between opening the postseason at the eventual AFC North champion or making a return trip to Foxborough, Mass., to play the New England Patriots (10-4).
There’s also momentum to be taken into consideration. The last two Super Bowl champions — the Giants and Green Bay Packers — entered the postseason with 9-7 and 10-6 records, respectively. They both caught fire late in the season and rode hot quarterbacks to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
That’s an incredibly lofty goal for this year’s Colts and rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, but it all starts with beating Kansas City on Sunday.
“We don’t want to limp into the playoffs,” defensive end Cory Redding said. “You want to walk into the playoffs. In order to do that, we have to end on a good note, strong on the offensive side of the ball, strong on special teams and strong defensively. We have to get off to a fast start and finish faster. That’s the whole mindset.”
Indianapolis on cusp of cementing playoff berth
ANDERSON, Ind. —
It’s a two-game season.
- Arabians make history in Muller thriller Pendleton Heights beat Anderson 3-2 to become the Nick Muller Memorial Baseball Tournament's first repeat champion.
500 Festival Mini Marathon might not fill field
With less than two weeks to go, the 38th 500 Festival Mini Marathon might not have a full field for the first time in 12 years.
Lady Ravens refusing to lose
The Anderson University softball team swept Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference foe Transylvania University on Saturday at Raven Field to finish a perfect 8-0 at home this season.
- Arabians win third straight County softball title It was a scenario Pendleton Heights had seen before. The game was scoreless late into the championship game of the Madison County softball tournament.
- Bulldogs rally past Eagles at Muller Kallen Brooks went 3-for-3 with two RBIs, including a walk-off double in the eighth inning, and Lapel rallied to defeat rival Frankton 3-2 on Saturday at Memorial Field.
- Eagles stop Lions to claim third place Frankton's Tia Sharp drove in three runs including the game-winner in the bottom of the sixth as the Eagles defeated Liberty Christian 11-1 here Saturday.
PH pushes across only run in 7th
After Frankton's Kyleigh Garner and Pendleton Heights' Bailey Benefiel battled one another to a standstill from the pitcher's circle for six innings, it took one mistake in the seventh to decide the outcome.
- Arabians sweep track titles again Beautiful sunshine and warm temperatures greeted the competitors at the Madison County track meet Friday at Madison-Grant. The Pendleton Heights boys and girls teams were looking to take the county for the third year in a row, but Anderson and Lapel had other ideas. It started off as a record-setting meet and finished with a bang as Pendleton was able to wrap up both titles. The girls held off a stiff challenge from Lapel to win 167.5-147, and the boys took the final event of the night to squeak out a 156.5-148.5 win over Lapel.
- Arabians clip Eagles, go for Muller repeat The competitive feeling at Pendleton Height’s Bill Stoudt Field quickly faded Friday during the semifinals of the Nick Muller Memorial Baseball Tournament. The Arabians once again took advantage of the opposing team’s generosity as Frankton pitchers gave up six walks and hit five batters, and Pendleton Heights took the 14-3 victory.
Arabians win County net title with 5-0 shutout
An intriguing battle awaited and there was no indication what the team scores would be. Considering the Frankton Eagles had home court advantage, the Pendleton Heights Lady Arabians came hungry for the Madison County tennis title. Pendleton aced a 5-0 win and came away with the crown.
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