THE SIMPLEST OF SCENARIOS

The Colts on Sunday can clinch the AFC South with a victory over the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium. 'Everything's on us,' Colts center Jeff Saturday said.

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Colts Can Clinch AFC South with Victory over Tennessee Sunday
INDIANAPOLIS – In this case, simple is OK.

Jeff Saturday, now in his 12th season as the Colts' center, said while there may be an element of pressure to the team's post-season scenario entering the regular-season finale, the positive of the situation more than outweighs the worry.

Never mind an injury-heavy regular season. Never mind six regular-season losses.

Never mind a three-game November losing streak.

All that is in the past and what's left is a simple scenario:

If the Colts win, they qualify for the post-season.

And that, Saturday said is a very good situation in which to be.

"'Let's Make It' – that's kind of the motto at this point," Saturday said as the AFC South-leading Colts (9-6) prepared to play the Tennessee Titans (6-9) at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis Sunday at 4:15 p.m.

"Everything's on us. If we win, we're in. I don't think there's a better place to be. You control your own destiny going into the last game of the season. We talked about it as a team: this is our goal, what we've set out to do. We have to get that one first."

The Colts, after slipping to 6-6 and into second-place in the AFC South with a three-game November losing streak, have rallied to the edge of yet another post-season appearance in recent weeks.

Entering Sunday, the Colts will win the AFC South and make the playoffs if:

*They beat Tennessee, or . . .

*The Jacksonville Jaguars lose to the Houston Texans in Houston, or . . .

*Either Jacksonville or Indianapolis tie.

The Colts, who have won six of the past seven AFC South titles, cannot make the playoffs as a wild card. If they win Sunday or Jacksonville loses, the Colts will play host to a first-round AFC post-season game on either January 8 or 9.

"It's the Titans and that's it," Colts quarterback Peyton Manning said. "That's really all we're worried about and talking about."

The Colts have beaten Tennessee, Jacksonville and Oakland the last three weeks, in the process moving from a game behind Jacksonville to one game ahead. Still, the Jaguars would win the South if they beat Houston Sunday providing Indianapolis loses to Tennessee.

Indianapolis can secure the No. 3 seed in the AFC with a victory over the Titans, but only if Kansas City loses to Oakland Sunday. The Colts have made the playoffs an NFL-high eight consecutive seasons.

Dallas holds the NFL record for consecutive post-season appearances with nine from 1975-83.

And while because of the Colts' playoff experience, there has been discussion among media and other observers of how the team might fare in the post-season. Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said such talk is decidedly premature.

"I probably like to talk about it after it's done," Caldwell said. "We're not there. We have to earn our right to get there. Then, we can kind of talk about it.

"You know me. I don't like gazing down the street. You're asking for problems. I really do think so. We have to stay focused."

Said Colts offensive tackle Charlie Johnson, "First of all, we need to get there. We're a team that if we function well and if we do what we need to do, we can play well."

The Colts in the regular-season finale will play host to a team that – until late in the season – held very real hopes of a post-season appearance.

The Titans, who won the AFC South in 2008, won eight of their last 10 games last season to finish 8-8 and were picked by many to contend for the playoffs. They started the season 5-2, but have lost seven of their last eight games and were eliminated from the playoffs when they lost, 34-14, to Kansas City last Sunday.

Titans coach Jeff Fisher said the team's motivation Sunday is simple: "To go out and win the last football game of the year."

"We don't bring up the 'Quit' word," Fisher said. "There is no quit in this football team. We're going to play hard. We're going to grasp the game plan, go out there and make plays and play with great effort just like we've been talking about all year. We have a huge challenge. Obviously their motivation is a little bit different than us — they need to win this to win the division and we need to win it to win it."

While declining to offer specifics, Fisher said the Titans could use the game to look at younger, less-used players on the roster. He also said the Titans could change some things in their game plan, particularly offensively.

"It's very imant," Fisher said. "You go out and try to win every game. We know this is a tremendous challenge. They're playing well. They got their run game going. Their defense is playing very, very well, but we have a good game plan in and we just need to go out and make plays."

Throughout the week, the Colts placed emphasis on focusing on the task at hand, and Caldwell said there are plenty of examples of non-playoff teams faring well against contending teams late in the season. This past Tuesday, the Minnesota Vikings – recently eliminated from the post-season – beat the Philadelphia Eagles, 24-14. The loss ended the Eagles' chances at securing a first-round playoff bye.

"We try to use every possible angle to get their attention and make them kind of see things the way we do," Caldwell said. "Our guys are pretty astute and that certainly is a perfect example. You can't take anything for granted. There are no assurances in this game in terms of whether or not you're at home, or away, what your record is – all of those things.

"I think that's a great example to utilize."

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