The Indianapolis Colts have a lot on the line coming into Week 17. They are playing the Jacksonville Jaguars with a playoff berth at stake. On the outside looking in, the Colts can sneak into the playoffs. They would need a win and losses by one of four teams in front of them. They could even win the AFC South if the Tennessee Titans lose their final game of the season.
However, they could make history if they handle their business but don’t receive the help they need. If the Indianapolis Colts fail to make the playoffs at 11-5, they will join an exclusive group of NFL teams that were good but not good enough to make the postseason.
The Colts missed their chance to clinch a playoff spot
Indianapolis could’ve punched their ticket to the postseason already but squandered that opportunity against the Pittsburgh Steelers. All the Colts had to do was win and they’d be in. Things were looking pretty well for them in the third quarter. Indy had a 17-point lead on the Steelers, who were on a three-game losing streak entering the contest.
That big lead evaporated as the Colts’ defense played football like they weren’t trying to lose. The playcalling was conservative, and Pittsburgh took advantage of that. Their offense erupted in the second half, outscoring Indy 24-7. Ben Roethlisberger cooked the Colts secondary, finishing the game with 342 yards and three touchdowns. Pittsburgh completed the comeback effort, defeating the Colts 28-24.
The Indianapolis Colts entered that game as the sixth seed, with control of their destiny. That loss pushed Indianapolis to the eighth seed. Now they are hoping they get the help they need to make the postseason. A win against Jacksonville would give Indy an 11-5. If they don’t receive the help they need, they’d be on the bad side of NFL history.
The Indianapolis Colts can make NFL history with an 11-5 record
Despite the Jaguars being 1-14, the Colts shouldn’t take this game lightly. The lone win Jacksonville has this year came against Indy in Week 1. The two teams are completely different now than the first week of the season, with the Colts being the heavy favorites. Indianapolis needs to win their game and hope the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, or Titans lose their games.
If the Colts handle business, but all of the teams mentioned above win, they would miss the playoffs with an 11-5 record. They would be the third team in NFL history to miss the playoffs with such a record per NBC Sports. The last time that happened was in 2008 with the New England Patriots. Ironically, the team ahead of them in the standings that year was the Colts at 12-4.
The only other time an 11-5 team missed the playoffs was in 1985. It was Denver Broncos, led by John Elway. The Colts could be the third team to join that club if the chips don’t fall their way Sunday. They should have a clear picture of their playoff chances, given that the Ravens, Browns, and Dolphins play at 1 p.m. ET. Indy plays Jacksonville at 4:25 p.m. ET.
The Colts can still host a playoff game
The end of the season could go one of three ways for the Indianapolis Colts. The first way is the Colts win their game but fail to make the playoffs because all of the teams ahead of them won. They could make the postseason if one (or all) of the teams above lose their Week 17 games. The final outcome is that they can win their game, and the Titans lose theirs. That would make the Colts AFC South champions.
That could change the entire outlook of the Colts’ potential playoff run. Winning their division bumps them up to the fourth seed, which means they would host a Wild Card game. There is a big difference between playing a playoff game at home and on the road. The Colts perform better at home, posting a 5-2 record at Lucas Oil Stadium. That record could jump to 6-2 after their game against Jacksonville.
Having the four seed would also mean avoiding a potential Wild Card matchup with the Steelers or Bills. The Bills have the two-seed, and the Steelers have the three-seed currently. The Colts just lost against Pittsburgh, and the Bills are one of the more complete teams in the NFL. A four-seeded Colts squad would also take great pleasure in stealing the division crown from the Titans also.
History could be made for the Indianapolis Colts after the game Sunday, being the third 11-5 team to miss the playoffs. That isn’t history Indy wants to be associated with, so they will be looking to win against Jacksonville and praying at least one of the teams in front of them to slip up.