INDIANAPOLIS – What began exactly four months ago this Friday in Anderson, will come to a close on Sunday afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Through three weeks in Anderson, a preseason slate of games and a never dull moment regular season, the Colts (10-5) will wrap up their 16-game schedule with the Jacksonville Jaguars (4-11) at 1:00 p.m. EST.
Just like last season though, the pads will not be stored away for too long as the Colts have earned a playoff spot thanks to capturing the AFC South.
There's something building inside the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center and the Colts no desire to stop until early February..
The Colts have won back-to-back games by an average of 20 points and have allowed just one touchdown in the last eight quarters.
Starting back in late November the Colts were hoping to throw the "M" word around come late December.
That's certainly the case.
"Momentum is never overrated. I think that does make a huge difference. It gains confidence. It's an energy-booster," defensive end Cory Redding says.
"Teams who've won the Super Bowl in the past got hot at certain points in the season. They had their difficult times. Struggled in-season, got hot towards the playoffs and that's what happened. We want to be that team. That's what we're striving to do. We feel like the momentum swing is in our favor right now."
While the Colts hope their momentum carries into the immediate future of 2014, the Jaguars are looking big picture with their own streak.
The Jaguars have won their last three road games and a total of four contests since a winless first half of 2013.
Jacksonville has also had some recent success at Lucas Oil Stadium in winning their last two road matchups with the Colts.
T.Y. Hilton and the Colts are looking to end that streak and in doing so win three consecutive games for the first time since Weeks 3-5.
"It means a lot because the team that's hot normally wins it all," the second-year receiver says of playing well in December. "Right now, we're just trying to get hot and we're playing good football at the right time."
The Colts are also looking to go 6-0 against the AFC South for just the third time since the division was created in 2002.
In a playoff atmosphere last week, the Colts put together arguably their best performance of the season.
Now, it's time to continue this stretch in an effort to have the season continue for another month or so.
"To be able to go on the road and beat a quality team like Kansas City with the crowd noise, the weather, all those things and be able to keep your blinders on and focus on the task at hand, it's huge for us," Chuck Pagano said.
"To be able to win back-to-back games, then win a game like that, again it speaks volumes about our coaches and players and the job that they've done. Again, momentum is huge right now."
INTERESTING MATCHUPSJaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew versus Colts front seven:MJD returned from injury last week and had 13 carries for 45 yards. The Colts have not had a ton of success stopping MJD over the years but put together a terrific effort in the team's first meeting in 2013. On Sept. 29, the Colts held MJD to 1.8 yards per carry (13 carries for 23 yards) his lowest output all season. The Colts are dealing with a banged up defensive line with Ricky Jean Francois and Cory Redding both nursing injuries. Both guys have not practiced all week.
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck versus the Jaguars defense: After struggling for consistency through the month of November, Andrew Luck has been nothing short of terrific in December. No matter the skill position players or the interior offensive linemen, Luck has strung together three very efficient performances. The Colts have scored at least 22 points in four straight contests and Luck's ability to overcome significant offensive contributors is a major reason why momentum is building for January.Quick Facts
-Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (7,914) is just seven yards away from passing Cam Newton for the most passing yards by a player in his first two season of career in NFL history.
-Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton has a career-best in catches (71) and receiving yards (928) in 2013.
-Colts cornerback Darius Butler has three interceptions and two returned for touchdowns in his last two games vs. the Jaguars.
-The Jaguars have won three straight games on the road and two consecutive contests in Indianapolis.
-Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew has 1,412 career rushing yards vs. the Colts and has eight career 100-yard rush games vs. Indianapolis.
-Jaguars tight ends Marcedes Lewis is looking for his fifth straight game with a touchdown reception.NOTABLE QUOTESColts Head Coach Chuck Pagano(on the play of Andrew Luck being so solid despite numerous offensive injuries):
-"It's a great question. I guess it just speaks to, we know all the intangibles. We know the tangibles. We know the skill set, all those things. He's one of those guys that is able to stay in the moment, if you will. Regardless of who is out there, he's going to find a way to get the job done. Losing the players that we've lost, especially on offense. You lose Dwayne (Allen). You lose two runners in Vick (Ballard) and Ahmad (Bradshaw) and of course the number one target, Reggie (Wayne) goes down. He's got a lot of faith and a lot of trust in his teammates. Those guys are all accountable. They're accountable to each other. And they stepped up. He's not one to, he's not going to walk in here because we lost this guy, that guy and whatever. He's just one of those guys that's got a great attitude and it doesn't matter what the circumstances are. He's going to find a way to win the football game and he wills his team to win games. He's a great competitor that way. He's got that 'it' factor."Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano(on the play of the offensive line routinely having different guys plugging into the starting lineup):
-"They're used to it, obviously. I think the more adversity you face sometimes, it tends to bring you together. Again, I think the coaches, Joey (Gilbert) and Hal (Hunter), do a great job with those guys. And the players have found a way to put the pieces together week-in and week-out and it doesn't really matter who's up and who's down and who's available and who's playing where. They all know they all have position flexibility and know what to do. Guys like X (Xavier Nixon) we bring up and plug him in and he's basically worked the whole time as a swing tackle, then all of a sudden he's got to go play guard in a pinch when Joe (Reitz) went down in the Houston game. Those guys all prepare as starters and they've done a great job. And they have played well the last couple weeks, especially protecting Andrew (Luck)."Colts Defensive End Cory Redding(on how nice it is to be able to get to double-digit wins again this year):
-"Double-digit wins are hard to come by. Finished with 11 wins last year and we're knocking on the door to do that again this year. It's just exciting to get 10 wins. Any time you do that in the league, you're doing something right. Obviously Chuck (Pagano) has done an outstanding job of leading us through good times and bad times and even though we've got hit with so many injuries, we're not making no excuses or explanations, getting out on the field and making it happen. Guys are coming in out of these doors and getting acclimated to our playing system real quick, how we do things around here. They just want to contribute and find a way to get in and contribute on the field. We're just doing some good things right now. As far as to be playing and extremely excited to have 10 wins right now."Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley(on what has changed in the 4-3 record since the Jaguars bye week):
-"Well, offensively we felt like we really needed to work on third down and red zone, and the run. Those were the three big things that we looked at. And we've improved on third down. We've done a better job running the ball. And then the red zone, we've came up, we've captured some opportunities there. So those three areas I think since the bye week have really been emphasized. On defense, it was to stop the run or at least manage the run. And we did it there for three, four weeks. We did a much better job than what we did the previous games. But now the yards per carry have creeped up a little bit and so we've got to back to where we're managing the run a little bit better than what we have. Third down was another area, and we had a better week last week of third down. I think they were like 27 percent, something like that. So we're doing a better job on third down and we're hoping to keep improving in those areas to keep us in position to where we have a chance to be successful."Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley(on what he sees with the Colts):
-"I've said this before I think when I've talked with you before, I really marvel at their execution. We talk here about we want a culture of execution. I put on their tape and that's exactly what they're doing. They're playing really hard, really fast and because of that you're seeing them get a lot of takeaways on defense and they're doing a good job holding on to the ball offensively. And you just don't see many mistakes. They definitely have that culture and it's something that that's what we're striving to get here."Jaguars Running Back Maurice Jones-Drew(on what keeps MJD going while dealing with an injury):
-"You can't play like that because that's when you have to get those surgeries and things but you have to continue to play hard and fight. Obviously these guys here have been busting their butts and I feel like it would be a disjustice for me to them to not go out there and play as hard as I can for them and fight through the same injuries that they're fighting through and continuing to show them you can have a successful season. Even though you don't have the wins, people will still notice you. People will talk positive about your performance if you go out and play hard. It's easy to play when you're winning. That's easy to do. Everybody can do that. But when you have a lot of injuries in certain places, you have young guys playing, and if you're kind of like 'Well forget it, I just don't want to play anymore,' that's the easy way out. We're trying to build a culture here where it's never like that. You want to continue to have fun, continue to get better and you got to show that each week."