Team Can Secure No. 1 Playoff Seed With Victory on Sunday
INDIANAPOLIS – Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell says the Colts prefer to "tally them up in the end," rather than get caught up in the week-to-week analysis.
Which is why the Colts are more focused on Sunday's game against Denver rather than the potential ramifications of a win.
A victory this week would clinch home-field advantage for the Colts and improve their record to 13-0 for the second time in five seasons. In addition, a win also would set an NFL record for the longest regular-season winning streak (22 games) of all-time.
But Caldwell this week said that while the team is aware of all the above, it is not centering its attention on it.
"What we try and do is focus in on practice," Caldwell said. "We are trying to get better. That's the big thing during the course of the week. We don't have to tell them the significance of the game."
Caldwell said the team informs players of relevant feats or marks during the week, but the players usually are well aware by that point.
With a veteran core of players and an experienced coaching staff, Caldwell said Sunday's potential ramifications are not "foreign" to the Colts.
"I do talk about milestones to the team," Caldwell said. "To me, the historical significance of things you accomplish in this league is tough. It's tough to win. I think you diminish your profession if you don't acknowledge milestones and talk about them. Some of these guys have put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into making some of these things happen.
"We address it, but we don't make a big issue of it. We try to focus in on the things we can control. That's how we practice, that's how we prepare, and then we go out and play the game."
The trick to dealing with particular achievements or record-breaking games is to not get stuck on the numbers, Caldwell said.
"They don't define us, necessarily," he said. "We know we still have a lot of work to do."
Up to this point, the Colts' work has been fantastic.
Entering the Broncos game, the team is 12-0 and already has clinched the AFC South. Equally impressive this season is the feat Caldwell accomplished, becoming the first rookie head coach in NFL history to have won his first 12 games.
Caldwell said he was "humbled" by the mark, but deflected attention to the organization around him.
"It's an honor to be a part of a team that has played so well," Caldwell said. "Things like that are the residue of winning. I benefit from the residue of being involved with a great organization with great players and a great coaching staff. To me, the most important thing is how our team does and how we play from this point forward."
Should the Colts secure the No. 1 seed Sunday, it will give the Colts an opportunity to get some players healthy during the final few weeks before the playoffs begin.
While Caldwell said he has not decided what to do should the situation present itself, it does not mean there has been a shortage of advice.
"It's entertaining," Caldwell said. "There are a lot of different views. There are a lot of different people who have their opinion. Like everyone else, you can learn something new every day. I listen. I don't necessarily have to comment. Some have pretty good ideas. I'm interested in the one that works. If anybody can guarantee me, then I may listen a little closer."
Until then, Caldwell and the rest of the team will continue to focus on the game ahead.
Sunday's match-up against the Broncos pits Caldwell against the Broncos' own successful rookie head coach, Josh McDaniels. The two have combined for 20 wins this season, the most victories by rookie coaches facing each other in NFL history.
"It's going to be a lot of fun," Caldwell said. "Josh McDaniels is an outstanding coach, a very fiery guy. I had a chance to spend a little time out at the league meetings with him and enjoyed it. He was a lot of fun. We anticipate it will be a great game, one neither one of us has to play in."
The Colts issued Thursday's injury report with the following players listed as full participation in practice: DBs-Antoine Bethea (not injury related/rested), Melvin Bullitt (shoulder), Kelvin Hayden (knee) and Tim Jennings (ankle), LBs-Gary Brackett (foot) and Clint Session (calf), DEs-Keyunta Dawson (knee) and Dwight Freeney (not injury related/rested), OGs-Kyle DeVan (shin) and Jamey Richard (shoulder), OTs-Charlie Johnson (foot) and Tony Ugoh (hip), QB-Peyton Manning (glute), TE-Tom Santi (hand) and WR-Reggie Wayne (foot).
DT-Dan Muir (hamstring) was listed as limited participation in practice, while the following players were listed as did not participate: WRs-Hank Baskett (not injury related/personal) and Anthony Gonzalez (knee), RB-Donald Brown (chest), OT-Ryan Diem (hamstring), DB-Aaron Francisco (ankle), DE-Robert Mathis (quad) and K-Adam Vinatieri (right knee).