INDIANAPOLIS — One advantage to playing on Monday night for the Indianapolis Colts is the opportunity to do a little scoreboard watching throughout Sunday's action.
As it stands now, the Colts (5-6) stand just one game in the win column out of first place in the AFC South Division standings, which is led by the Houston Texans (6-5) and the Tennessee Titans (6-6). The Texans travel to take on the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, while the Titans are finally on their bye week.
But no matter what happens in Sunday's Texans-Packers game, the Colts know that if they don't take care of business Monday night against the New York Jets, then anything that happens elsewhere is likely a moot point.
It's Colts-Jets on Monday Night Football, and that is the sole focus for this Colts team, general manager Ryan Grigson said.
"Nothing else matters," Grigson said. "You can't get to that next step if you don't take care of business with what you're embarking on here on Monday night."
Aside from all the possible divisional implications, the opportunity to play on primetime itself should be enough to get the Colts players amped up.
"If you can't get up for Monday Night Football and play your best football, then you shouldn't be suiting up," Grigson said. "And I think our guys will be fired up, and we've had a little bit of time here to heal up, so hopefully we're raring to go and we come out with a win."
Indeed, Indianapolis has had a longer layoff than usual heading into Monday's game. The Colts last played on Thanksgiving Night, Nov. 24 — a 28-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lucas Oil Stadium — and, by the time they kick off on Monday, will have had a rare 10 full days of rest to recover and prepare for the Jets.
Among those benefiting from the extra days off are quarterback Andrew Luck and safety Clayton Geathers, each of whom suffered concussions Week 11 against the Tennessee Titans and missed last week's game against the Steelers. While they await final clearance from an independent neurologist, the time off has also been beneficial for several other Colts players who have suffered various nicks, cuts and bruises over the past couple weeks.
"Any healthy contributor at this point of the season is obviously a welcome sight, so we had some guys that are trending in the right direction, and then we've got guys that are going in the other direction," Grigson said. "So it's always a balancing act. But this time of year it's all about getting the best players out there that you can, and it's still going on the road in the elements, and it's a team that's had our number, and we've got to make it different this time."
Highlights from the Colts home opener against the Jets on Monday Night Football.
The Jets (3-8) have certainly played well against the Colts in recent seasons, as they come into Monday night's game sporting a 4-1 record against Indianapolis in their last five matchups, including wins in three straight games.
Last season, New York jumped out to a 10-0 halftime lead and took advantage of five Colts turnovers to walk out of Lucas Oil Stadium with a 20-7 victory.
And while the week-to-week results for the Jets haven't exactly been pretty this season, the team is coming off one of its more impressive showings of the year last week, albeit in a losing effort. New York fell to the AFC-leading New England Patriots, 22-17, but really showed what it was made of defensively against one of the top offenses in the league.
With several high draft picks on that defense — which ranks fourth against the run in the NFL — Grigson and the Colts know that they certainly have their work cut out for them on Monday. And, whether or not the Texans are able to take care of business on their end on Sunday, Indianapolis will only worry about its own tall task the next night.
"Make the plays that are there to be made," Grigson said of the primary goals for the Jets game. "The guys that are expected to make the plays, make them. The basics: tackle, block, know your assignments, stay onsides, limit your mistakes, catch the football and play through the whistle.
"We've been right there the whole season outside of, really, one game, and we've just got to between the ears make sure that we go out there, like Coach (Chuck Pagano) says, 60 minutes, don't judge and let's go get a W."