Colts Can Still Win Division Despite Luck’s Injuries
The Indianapolis Colts appeared to have turned a crucial corner last week, exploding out to a huge first half lead and just barely clinging on to topple the undefeated Denver Broncos at home and maintain a half-game lead in the division.
But a determined performance from Andrew Luck came at a cost, with latest reports confirming he will be sidelined for at least one month with a lacerated kidney. The Colts will turn to 40-year-old Matt Hasselbeck, and they will not only stay alive in the dismal AFC South, they will tread water in first place before their young star can come back fighting fit.
It all starts with this week. Luck’s recovery schedule will get started during a much-needed bye week, giving Indy a chance to sit back and watch the rest of the division unfold.
The 2-6 Jaguars travel to Baltimore to play the Ravens, the 2-6 Titans face the undefeated Panthers at home, and the 3-5 Texans will be in Cincinnati for Monday Night Football.
Frankly, it’s hard to see any of those three AFCS teams pull out the win. Most importantly, a Texans’ loss on Monday night would gift the Colts a one-game lead in the division and the head-to-head tiebreaker with only seven games still to play. Should Jacksonville or Tennessee win this week to leapfrog Houston, the lead would remain the same, as Indy is undefeated within the division so far this season.
But the Colts can’t stay off the field forever. After the bye, the team’s first assignment will be the reeling Falcons in Atlanta. The veteran Hasselbeck will be unfazed by the situation, given he has performed well above expectations in two starts this year.
He engineered an overtime win and a comeback win in back-to-back weeks against two division rivals, throwing three touchdowns and committing zero turnovers, helped in no small part by a rumbling running game and receivers that carried the load through the air. Pending a timely recovery of exactly four weeks, Luck could be back in pads without missing a single divisional clash.
The Colts might miss out on a winning season for the first time since 2001, but winning the division in 2015 will be a marathon, not a sprint. “If you’re good enough to get into the playoffs, you’re good enough to win it all.” It’s an adage the Colts will do well to remember minus their main man on offense.