The Indianapolis Colts have five crucial games that they must win in order to prove that they are on the path to being serious league contenders.
The Colts are coming off of an awful 2011 season with a brand new team, as well as new management.
I wouldn’t say the Colts are starting from scratch, but they're pretty close. The team will be going into the regular season with a rookie quarterback, a rookie head coach and no Pierre Garcon. This should make things interesting.
Of course, for any team in the NFL, the attitude should be that every game is a “must-win game.”
But because the Colts are rebuilding and testing out a newly structured team, there are five specific games that they will have to win.
From a personal standpoint, the Week 3 preseason game against the Washington Redskins is a must-win for Andrew Luck.
Luck was the No. 1 draft pick in the NFL, and Robert Griffin III was the No. 2 pick. And the flip-flop: Griffin won the Heisman Trophy and Luck was the runner-up.
The two have been compared, analyzed and thrown back and forth. They are both excellent quarterbacks, but this game will show which of them can perform better at the professional level.
Preseason games might not be the most important, but this one is a must-win game for the Colts. Everyone is looking at how the Colts are doing in the preseason. It’s a glimpse into how the team is functioning under the new leadership of Andrew Luck and head coach Chuck Pagano.
The Colts already won their first preseason game against the St. Louis Rams 38-3. If they continue winning in the preseason, it will give them the confidence and momentum for the start of the regular season.
This is a must-win game for the Colts simply because the team and the fans want to see and know that their rookie quarterback is better than Washington’s.
See, the thing is, the Jaguars aren’t the best team in the league...by a long shot.
So this is a must-win game because the Colts should be able to beat the Jags. They probably won’t demolish them by any means, but it should be a pretty even playing field. The Jags were 5-11 last season, and the Colts were 2-14.
Not to mention, Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert is fairly new to the NFL as well. Last year was Gabbert’s first season with the Jags and this season will be Luck’s first.
This matchup is pretty much a “gimme” for the Colts. This game will be the third game of the regular season for the Colts and a win would be a huge confidence booster for them. And if that wasn’t enough, the two teams are in the same division.
The Colts really have to win this one, and they should.
The Tennessee Titans are also in the AFC South with the Indianapolis Colts.
The Titans were 9-7 last season, which is not bad. The Colts must win against the Titans because they are division opponents and held a decent record last season.
See, the Colts could easily beat the Jacksonville Jaguars but will face a big challenge with the Houston Texans. Those are the two extremes, and the Titans are right in the middle. The Colts must beat the Titans in order to be a sizable threat in the AFC South.
The Titans will be a challenging matchup as well, but the Colts need to win to really prove that they are a new and improved team. Winning against the Jags will not be that much of a statement.
But winning against the Titans is sure to get everyone’s attention.
Pretty soon the season will be halfway over, and that’s when the Colts will meet the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
Disclaimer: This will be an incredibly difficult match-up for the Colts. I’m talking cross-your-fingers-and-pray-to-the-NFL-gods difficult.
But, this is a must-win for the Colts because if they win this one, it will send a defining message to the league: The Indianapolis Colts are back. They will have achieved a huge success by competing with the best.
Because this game is at the halfway point of the regular season, it will be a good marker to measure the Colts’ progress. This game will determine if the Colts have a chance in 2012, or if they’re ill-fated to a repeat of 2011.
And if Andrew Luck can outperform Tom Brady, the Colts will have gotten everything they were hoping for.
This will be the Colts’ last game in the regular season, and it will probably be the most important.
The Texans are AFC South opponents and 2011 division champions. The Texans are a strong team that will present a huge challenge to the Colts, especially at the end of an entire regular season.
The Colts will be tired, but they will also be used to playing as a team. December 30th will be the last game for the Colts to show how much they have improved.
It will also show if the team made wise choices in their new players and staff.