INDIANAPOLIS – Entering this weekend, 19 teams are alive for 12 playoffs spots, with seven of those having punched their ticket.
The number of teams alive will be shaved come Monday, and the Colts control their fate.
A win or a tie by the 9-5 Colts against 2-12 Kansas City will earn the franchise its 12th post-season berth since 1999.
Indianapolis has won a league-high eight games by seven points or less, and Bruce Arians said a few weeks ago that playing closely-decided games is the nature of a young team that still is finding its 60-minute legs.
Effort for 60 minutes has not been the issue, but intermittent execution issues have kept the team from having a number of games decided positively by larger margins.
The 2012 Colts are not ones to lose sight of the preparation process. It has not happened in 14 games and while Arians sees no reason that it will, he still says looking past the Chiefs would be foolish.
“You can’t because defensively, they’re outstanding,” said Arians. “They have had a worse turnover ratio than we have had. That has been a sore spot for them, turning the ball over. We cannot go down there and turn the ball over to them and give them anything. Their defense is one of the most talented in the league.”
The last time the Colts played a team with as many losses was on December 14, 2008 when they hosted 0-13 Detroit. A 10-point fourth-quarter spurt allowed an Indianapolis team that finished 12-4 to win, 31-21.
Peyton Manning was the quarterback that day, now it is
“Defensively, they play much better than their record indicates. (It’s) one of the top defenses that we’ve faced all year,” said Luck. “They play hard. They are fast, physical, they make plays.”
Last season, Indianapolis did not win its first game until it was 0-13, and
“When we played, especially if they were looking to get into the playoffs we were trying to ruin those events,” said Bethea. “We know we are going to get their best shot. We’ve just got to go out there and play our ‘A’ game.”
“A playoff spot. Win or go home,” said Mathis of the team’s mindset. “We just can’t go out there and lay an egg like we did last week. If you have a goal in mind and you want to achieve it, you just have to go out there and get a victory.
“It’s the NFL. You can’t underestimate anybody. Last year, we were sitting in the same spot, not many wins. At the same time, we came to play each and every week. That’s what they do.”
The Chiefs possess a talented rushing attack with Jamaal Charles near the top of AFC performers. Though Kansas City has been challenged on the scoreboard in having topped 20 points only once in the past 10 games,
“As long as you’re a pro in this league, you are a deadly weapon. You still have passion. You still have fire, and you love to compete,” said Redding. “I don’t care what their record says. If it’s 2-14 or whatever, those guys are going to come out ready to play.
“They love their coach. They want to fight for a job. They’re playing at home. They’re playing amongst their peers, their family and friends. They want to go out there and prove to themselves that they are a worthy team, and to keep their head coach. You can’t look at that (the record). You have to go and just prepare and get a victory.”