INDIANAPOLIS – Before the Colts can take a gander at other scoreboards on Sunday afternoon, they have to take care of their own business.
Technically, the Colts can still stay alive in the playoff race with a loss to the Dolphins, but a win would almost assure them of heading into Week 17 with a chance at the postseason.
Earlier this week, Chuck Pagano was asked if he would look at some younger players with playoff hopes having taken a severe hit.
"No, we need to win. We need to win," Pagano stated.
"I don't know what's going to happen in any other city, in any other stadium. We just need to win because I don't want to sit back and go, 'Oh damn, I didn't know this was going to happen or that was going to happen,' because anything can happen and that's the way we're looking at it."
Miami has already been eliminated from playoff consideration.
Coming into 2015, the Dolphins were a popular Wild Card pick in a very competitive AFC East.
A 1-3 start, followed by the firing of head coach Joe Philbin, squelched any of that promising offseason intrigue.
When the NFL released their schedule back in April, this Week 16 non-divisional matchup was thought to have some sort of playoff impact.
Instead, it's one team who will start their offseason a week from Monday, and another who is trying to hold onto their slim chances of playing meaningful football in January.
"We've had opportunities all season long," Pagano says looking back on the Colts 6-8 record with two weeks left.
"Make no excuses, everybody has injuries. We've had our share. It is what it is. We all signed up for 16 games. We got a huge contest coming up this weekend in Miami. We'll go down there and play our tails off and try to win a game."**
INTERESTING MATCHUPSDolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry versus the Colts secondary: Landry is one of the rare playmakers in the NFL who touches the ball in a plethora of ways. His 91 catches is a franchise record, with the Dolphins lining Landry up all over their offense. This will be a different type of challenge for a Colts defense struggling to keep the big plays to a minimum.Colts offensive line versus the Dolphins front seven:With Anthony Castonzo returning last week, the Colts now have the five they want up front. That unit carries a big burden right now. With a banged up Matt Hasselbeck, the unit can't afford to let many (if any) hits on No. 8. Springing Frank Gore for around four yards per carry would also be a welcomed change for an offense lacking sustainability.
- The Colts have four players who played their college football in Miami: (Miami-Phillip Dorsett, Frank Gore and Andre Johnson; Florida International-T.Y. Hilton).
- With one made field goal, Adam Vinatieri will become the third player in NFL history with 500 career field goals.
- Colts inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson leads the NFL in tackles (136).
- At 5-9, the Dolphins have been officially eliminated from playoff consideration.
- Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry has 91 receptions on the season, which is a franchise record.
- Dolphins safety Reshad Jones is the only player in the NFL with at least 100 tackles, two sacks and four interceptions this season. NOTABLE QUOTES
Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano
(on what he's telling his team with playoff chances diminishing):
"Fight. Keep fighting. Like I said, we signed up for 16 regular season games and we're going to finish. I told them to finish the race. I know the character of these guys in that locker room and those guys, they're going to put the time in, they're going to prepare, that's what we're all getting paid to do. We're all professionals and they understand that, coaches understand it, we all understand it. So, pain of discipline or the pain of regret. I'd hate to sit there and let something slip by and then all of a sudden look back and say, 'Boy, I didn't know they were going to lose two games.' I don't know what's going to happen and I don't really care. All I worry about is us and us preparing, us working, us doing all the little things, everything that you can with who we have in this building to prepare, put the time in and try to go win a football game. That's all you can do. And then when the dust settles after that, if it's not in our control, it's out of our hands right now but stranger things have happened. Call me naïve, but still a chance."
Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano
(on the personnel of the Dolphins defense):
"They've got good players. They play really hard. They're well coached. They've got a front seven that's really good. Like everybody else, they're dealing with some injuries. They had some guys that went down in the San Diego game that we'll wait and see what their availability is for their defense, but, they're athletic. Olivier Vernon on one end is having a Pro Bowl caliber year. He's a dynamic guy. He's really tough to block. Very good against the run, 7.0 sacks, he's disruptive. Against the pass, obviously (Ndamukong) Suh in the middle is a guy that you've got to take care of. He commands double teams. You've got to do things protection wise to not only take care of Vernon but Suh obviously. Linebackers are fast and athletic. Secondary is very talented. (Brent) Grimes is a Pro Bowl type corner. (Reshad) Jones is having a Pro Bowl season as a safety. He's a threat in the box. He's got five interceptions. He's good in pass coverage. They blitz him. They do a lot of things with him. (Michael) Thomas, the other safety, is a good player. They've got a talented, talented football team. Especially on the defensive side, there's a bunch of guys. They make it tough. Numbers, forget numbers and all that stuff. It's easy to look at that and say, 'Well, this, that and the other.' They're a darn good defense."
Colts Wide Receiver Andre Johnson
(on the difficulty of this season):
"Well, things happen, injuries happen. I think when you start the season you don't expect to lose your starting quarterback, you don't expect to lose your left tackle, you don't expect to lose a lot of guys but it happened. We just didn't take advantage of the opportunities we had at times and when you lose people you have to have other guys step up and we all have to step our games up and we just didn't do that so that's why we're in the situation we are in right now."
Dolphins Interim Head Coach Dan Campbell
(on what impresses him about the Colts):
"I think, for me, the first thing that really jumped out was this defense. I know statistically the numbers aren't what you would think of as far as great numbers, though when I watch this defense those numbers don't match up because it's a salty defense. They play hard, they're aggressive. Every once in a while there will be a big play given up, but overall I was shocked to see the stats because I think we got our hands full with this defense. They're all over the place. They've got big run stoppers in the middle, they've got good edge rushers, (Robert) Mathis, they got two backers in the middle that are very active and good players. Vontae Davis is a shutdown corner so that was the first thing that jumped out and the other thing offensively is, I know there have been a number of injuries but you still, with (Donte) Moncrief and T.Y. (Hilton), that's a lot of speed on the field. Hasselbeck has done this thing for a long time and he's seen enough football in his time that he can still hurt you."
Dolphins Interim Head Coach Dan Campbell
(on what is there to play for with his team already eliminated from playoff consideration):
"Well, I think what you have to do is you've got to build for 2016 at this point when you're a team that's out. The Colts still have a shot and shoot that's all you need and that's something to play for. For us, I want to see how we finish out and see who you can build a team off of for the future. That's kind of what you're looking for, the guys that will go out and compete, that are dependable, that are disciplined and so certainly it's about pride. It's for the name on the back of your jersey and it's how you play when the chips are down and when you technically have nothing to play for, what kind of player are you then?"
Dolphins Quarterback Ryan Tannehill
(on the team's offensive weapons led by running back Lamar Miller and wide receiver Jarvis Landry):
"Lamar is having a good year. I think he's a talented runner and you pair him with Jay Ajayi in the backfield. You have Lamar, who has the speed and elusiveness, and Jay, who is a big, strong, physical runner who is going to run downhill hard. Those two guys complement each other very well. I think Jarvis (Landry) is what he is. He is a talented receiver. He's leading the team in catches. He has I think almost 100 catches on the year someone just told me today. He's drawing double-teams on third downs in the red zone. He's a talent that everyone recognizes. I think I think DeVante (Parker) is on the upswing right now. He's gaining a lot of confidence as the season has gone on. He's making more and more plays as the season has gone on, as the games have gone on. He started off making a play here, a play there and now he's making several plays a game. I know if he continues on this track he's going to be a dominant player in this league."