INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts (8-4) begin the final quarter of the season on Sunday with three road trips in the final four weeks.
There is a scenario this week in which the Colts could clinch the AFC South.
Here are a few headlines from Chuck Pagano meeting the media on Monday afternoon:
-Dwayne Allen: Pagano said it looks like Allen will be available for practice on Wednesday after missing the last two weeks with an ankle sprain.
-Vontae Davis: He does have a concussion and will go through the protocol this week. Pagano hopes to have Davis available for Sunday.
-Hugh Thornton: Still "week-to-week" with an MCL injury.
Chuck Pagano on the sudden change defense from Sunday:
"Anytime you can force a field goal down that close and a team to punt, and get away with two sudden change situations with three points, that's damn good defense."
Bowen's Analysis: I know it's a not a game of what-ifs but the early outlook could have been bleak for the Colts on Sunday after two turnovers in their first four offensive plays. However, the Indy defense held Washington to three points on those drives and then forced another punt late in the half after a Boom Herron fumble in Indy territory.
As a former defensive coach, Pagano loved what he saw from this part of the defense on Sunday. He joked that the defenders love the extra TV time. In all seriousness, this is a crucial element of a defense. Just when you think the offense is beginning another drive, the Colts rose to the occasion by defending a limited amount of turf and ultimately allowing for the points to pile up in the coming quarters.
Chuck Pagano on the recent play of Trent Richardson:
"I have no level of concern with how he's playing.
"Some days it's going to be like that. Some days it's going to be tough sledding."
Bowen's Analysis: Pagano backed his starting running back on Monday telling the media that his message to Richardson is to "keep chopping wood." The last few weeks have been a struggle for Richardson to achieve the same type of production he had in the first half of the season.
On Sunday, Boom Herron appeared to be well on his way to a 100-yard day before the number of plays for the offense seriously dwindled in the second half. Pagano said the fumbles that Herron has had the past two weeks cannot happen, but it won't impact his playing time right now. While the Colts try to get Richardson back on track, the offense has been productive in their ground game the last two weeks with a few Andrew Luck scrambles helping things in that department.
Bowen's Analysis: With a win by the Colts on Sunday and a loss by the Texans in Jacksonville, Indianapolis will have clinched the AFC South for a second straight season. In other words, the magic number is two for the Colts to win the AFC South (meaning a combination of wins from Indianapolis and/or losses from Houston must add up to two over the final four weeks).
The Colts will see Houston next week at Lucas Oil Stadium in a game that could clinch the division even if Indianapolis drops one to Cleveland on Sunday. While the division remains the top priority, a strong finish to the regular season would keep the Colts in contention for possible byes with Denver and New England both sitting at 9-3.