INDIANAPOLIS – In seasonal quarter-speak, the Colts have gone from 3-1 to 6-2 to 8-4. It is an arithmetic progression that places them among the NFL’s most victorious teams.
Only Denver (10), New England (9) and Kansas City (9) have more wins in the AFC, and the club’s mark has it currently lodged in the third playoff seed (though no playoff spot is earned yet).
The last four games had two lopsided NFC losses and two victories over Tennessee done in gutty fashion by a total of 11 points.
Home division games remain with Houston and Jacksonville, while trips to Kansas City and Cincinnati (8-4, first place in AFC North) will be stern tests.
The aim is to be playing the season’s best ball going forward. Here are observations at the remaining quarter pole.
PROTECTION CONCERNS – The club is coming off its highest number of sacks allowed last Sunday, and
RUSHING CONSISTENCY – The Colts gained 18 yards on 14 rushes against St. Louis in a game where the score got out of hand early. Indianapolis ran for 80 yards at Arizona, with Luck having 31 and Boom Herron getting 33 when the outcome was decided. Otherwise, Colts backs were not a factor. In the wins against the Titans, Indianapolis had varied success but showed signs. Two fourth-quarter TD drives secured the victories, and they were done almost exclusively on the ground. The line functioned well in the clutch both times.
RED ZONE SUCCESS – Entering the third quarter, Indianapolis was the only team with a perfect red zone scoring percentage (25-for-25). A one-for-five red zone effort against the Rams that included three interceptions and a turnover on downs was disappointing. Prior to that game, the club was 11th in red zone TD percentage (60 percent). Through 12 games, Indianapolis is 13th at 55.3 percent. The overall scoring percentage of 89.5 is tied for 10th. Cashing in deep is imperative. Getting there consistently (especially in the first half) has been a problem since late in the Denver game.
HEAT AND TAKEAWAYS – The club’s lone game without multiple sacks in the third quarter came versus Tennessee Sunday, and it was the only one of the quarter with multiple takeaways. What was more commonplace in the first half of the season – games with multiple sacks and takeaways – needs to be prevalent in the final quarter. Indianapolis went 147 passes without picking off an opposing QB from the fourth quarter of the Denver game to halftime of the second Tennessee game, while yielding eight TD passes in that span. Getting a return from