INDIANAPOLIS – When the Colts touch down in New York on Sunday afternoon, ahead of their Monday Night Football contest with the Jets this week, they will be checking their phones rather quickly.
At about the same time of their descent into The Big Apple, the Texans should be wrapping up their Week 13 road game with the Green Bay Packers.
It will then be known if, come Monday night, the Colts will be playing for a chance to make it three 6-6 teams atop the AFC South going into the final quarter of the season.
No matter the result of the Texans/Packers matchup, the Colts must do their part in trying to cloud the AFC South picture even more.
"I do (realize how close things are in the division)," tight end Dwayne Allen says. "That's what makes football so exciting this time of the year. December football.
"It's our job to run the table. Point. Blank. Period. In order to have a realistic shot at making the playoffs, we have to run the table. You can either be intimidated by that or be excited because that means the coaching staff, the players, are going to give it everything they absolutely have to win a football game. And that's exciting football."
Running the table would greatly enhance the Colts' chances down the stretch.
Even a 4-1 mark, with the all-important must win over the Texans a week from Sunday, also would give the Colts a pretty good shot at the postseason.
In 11 of the past 12 seasons, the NFL has seen a team with a losing record at this point of the season make the playoffs.
The Colts are trying to do their part in extending that by another season.
"This isn't a deal where you sit there and hope and pray that something else happens," Chuck Pagano says of worrying about the needed help within the division.
"It is going to be a physical football game, we understand that and we understand what December football is all about. We understand what is out there for this football team. Again, we are excited about the opportunity."
INTERESTING MATCHUPSColts offensive line versus the Jets defensive front:Ryan Kelly and Denzelle Good returning to practice this week was important with what's coming Monday night. The Jets have one of the biggest/most physical fronts in all of football. They rank 2nd in the NFL in forcing negative plays. It's going to be difficult for the Colts to try and establish the line of scrimmage.
Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall versus the Colts secondary: Both of the Colts starting cornerbacks, Vontae Davis and Patrick Robinson, have missed practice time this week. Robinson is OUT and so is starting safety Clayton Geathers. Davis has returned and him getting back to "normal Vontae Davis" form is vital with Brandon Marshall having the ability to take a game over.
- The Colts have lost seven of their past eight primetime games.
- Colts running back Frank Gore needs 30 yards to pass Tony Dorsett (12,739) for eighth on the NFL's all-time rushing list.
- Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton is 2nd in the NFL with 20 catches of at least 20 yards this season.
- Chuck Pagano and Todd Bowles coached the defensive backs together in Cleveland from 2001-04.
- Monday will be Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's 9th career start against the Colts. Fitzpatrick is 2-6 all-time against the Colts.
- Jets offensive tackle Ben Ijalana (eight starts this season) was a second-round pick of the Colts in 2011.
NOTABLE QUOTESColts Head Coach Chuck Pagano(on getting Andrew Luck back for the stretch run of the season):
"You want to have all your guys out there and certainly Andrew is a guy you want to have on the field. I think everybody is excited about that. Whatever happens, this team will deal with it. It doesn't matter. They will respond to whatever the circumstances are, whatever the adversity is just like they did last year to find a way to win games and sometimes you have to do it without the guy and that is not the case right now hopefully."
Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano(on the Jets defensive line):
"This is as good as we will see. You have number one after number one after number one. They have seven number one picks on that side of the ball. (Muhammad) Wilkerson – you go down the line, (Steve) McLendon, he is a game-wrecker inside. (Leonard) Williams, (Sheldon) Richardson, (Lorenzo) Mauldin is playing at a high, high level and like I said (David) Harris. But this defensive front is big, they are long, they are athletic, they are aggressive, they are not afraid to send five or six zero pressures. Again, they are fourth in the league against the run, they are very stingy, they tighten things down, set great edges and build a flat wall. They seem to be in everybody's backfield all the time so it's going to be a huge challenge for our guys."
Colts Quarterback Andrew Luck(on his memories from watching Monday Night Football as a kid):
"I do. When Brett Favre's father passed away, that Monday night game sticks out. It's hard to finish the games, you have school the next day and parents wouldn't let us stay up. Shoot, I have trouble staying up these days anyway when I am sitting at home watching them. But playing, we have had a couple of them playing and they are always special."
Jets Head Coach Todd Bowles(on if the Jets are starting to play better in recent weeks):
"We're in the ball games. We just have to find a way to make them happen in the fourth quarter. I can't say we're playing better without winning ball games, but we've cut down on a lot of mistakes."
Jets Head Coach Todd Bowles(on coaching with Chuck Pagano in Cleveland back in the early 2000s):
"We were young then (laughs). We have a lot of stories I'm sure. It's funny as you look back on it. Chuck was an outstanding DB (defensive backs) coach. I think he's an outstanding head coach. If you go back, I was just happy to have gotten to know him. I learned a lot from him over the years and he's a great guy as well. It's great, I'm happy for him. (Chuck is very consistent and he always keeps his head down – win, lose or draw he keeps working. You know what kind of guy you're going to get every day. The biggest thing you want to do in sports when you come to work is know what kind of guy you're going to get every day and what he stands for. He's honest, he's forthright, he's a hell of a position coach, he's a hell of a head coach, he knows fundamentals and technique and you learn that being in a room with him for a long time. A lot of that stuff carries over."
Jets Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick(on the up and down nature of the Colts defense this season):
"I think the biggest thing with them, there are some different things that they'll do each week that are kind of specific to certain teams. But with them, the guys on the edge, they stick out as really tough football players and guys that we've got to know where they are at all times and account for them. Other than that, for us, what we're trying to do is worry more about us and try to fix the things that we need to work on and focus on us. I think that will bring us more success."