INDIANAPOLIS --- The Colts are 10-4 and champions of the AFC South division, currently sitting as the 3-seed in the conference with two games to go after Sunday's 17-10 win over the Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Indianapolis has won four games in a row, and many players said in the locker room after the win they want to carry that winning streak (and the momentum that comes with it) through the end of the regular season and deep into the playoffs.
"When we're out there playing for each other and things are clicking we can be a force to be reckoned with, you know, one of the tops in the league," said safety Sergio Brown, who helped preserve Sunday's win by breaking up a deep pass down the left sideline on Houston's final drive. "We just need to keep coming together as a unit and keep getting hot at the right time, take this as far as we can."
"It's all about getting hot and going on a little bit of a run here," said head coach Chuck Pagano, after the game.
"I think right now our main thing is to get hot going into January," said T.Y. Hilton. "Right now we're on a streak, and going into Dallas we want to continue that streak."
"Getting hot" is a common theme around the NFL as Christmas approaches each season, but is it necessary to win a Super Bowl? Recent history suggests no, in terms of the end of the regular season.
Last season, the Seahawks lost two of their final four regular season games. The Ravens, in 2012, lost four of their last five regular season games. The Packers were a 6-seed when they won it all in 2010, after losing three of their last six games. The 2009 Saints lost three straight to end the regular season. The 2008 Cardinals made it to the Super Bowl despite a 9-7 record having lost four of their last six regular season games. Before that, the 2007 Giants that upset the undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl lost two of three games to close out the regular season and won out in the playoffs as a 5th-seeded wild card. Even the 2006 Colts lost three of their final five games before hoisting the Lombardi under the Miami rain clouds.
Yes, a couple of these teams (including the 2006 Colts) rested starters, but the point is every Super Bowl winner since the Colts didn't play their best football at the end of the regular season, with the exception of the 2011 Giants who won three of four in December.
And the playoff seed of the Super Bowl champion has varied as much as the level of play of the eventual Super Bowl champion entering the postseason. Here are the seeds of the teams to take home the Vince Lombardi Trophy since the Colts won it: 1-seed, 4-seed, 4-seed, 6-seed, 1-seed, 2-seed, 5-seed, 3-seed.
Literally, every playoff seed one through six has won a Super Bowl just in the past eight years.
So what does this mean for the 2014 Colts? It means you can say you know what the Colts chances of winning the Super Bowl are, but in reality, that script has not been written. It means this team (and any other playoff team for that matter) can flip the switch after week 17 and make a run.
That is what the Colts mean by "getting hot". Winning 10 games in a row to end the season would be great, but ultimately, just winning four in a row to end your season is what matters most.
Can they do it? Who knows, but anybody that says the Colts can't do it probably didn't think five of the last eight Super Bowl champions would be teams that didn't get a 1st round bye in the playoffs. The 2014 Colts will likely have that same path.