Indianapolis Colts Progress Report: Where Things Stand Heading into Week 15

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Indianapolis Colts Progress Report: Where Things Stand Heading into Week 15
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Luck and LaVon have been hooking up on a regular basis.

The Indianapolis Colts are 9-4 and in second place in the AFC South. They are also currently in the fifth seed for the AFC playoffs.

In Week 15, they travel to Reliant Stadium to play the Houston Texans.

According to Football Outsiders, the Colts rank 19th on offense, 30th on defense and 28th overall in DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average). DVOA is explained on the linked web page.

 

Primary Talking Point for Week 15

It's all about the division title now.

Inexplicably, the Colts now control their own destiny in the tortoise chase that is the AFC South. Just a month ago, it appeared the Texans were going to coast all the way to the postseason, but a funny thing happened along the way.

The Colts kept winning.

Now, they are on the cusp of yet another postseason ticket, needing just one more win to seal the deal.

What's even more interesting is that if they win out, they'll finish the year 12-4 and will be the AFC South champions, guaranteed to play a home playoff game.

In order for that to happen, however, Indy has to do something they haven't done since early October: beat a winning team.

One thing is certain. If the Colts do indeed win out, they will likely have capped off the most improbable season in NFL history.

 

Injury Outlook

Bruce Arians gave no injury update in his Monday press conference.

Delone Carter, Donald Brown and Vick Ballard are all battling various injuries.

Brown was placed on injured reserve according to a team press release.

Ballard was the only one of the three healthy at the end of the game.

Joe Reitz, Samson Satele and Winston Justice are all question marks on the offensive line.

Tom Zbikowski missed the Titans game with a knee injury.

 

Player on the Rise

LaVon Brazill may not get the attention that T.Y. Hilton does, but the sixth-round pick is settling into a nice groove.

Brazill had at least one reception in each of the last seven games and has 11 catches for 186 yards and a touchdown. That's good for a nice YPR of 16.9.

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Brazill has only returned a handful of kicks on the year, but has already exceeded his post-draft baseline.

His big-play ability was evident in the Detroit game as he caught a long touchdown pass from Andrew Luck to get the Colts back in the game.

He's worked his way onto the field about 20 to 25 percent of the time and always manages to do something positive. His DVOA on the season is 8.8 percent, according to Football Outsiders.

He's yet one more example of a solid draft pick for Ryan Grigson in what may be remembered as one of the best drafts of all time.

 

Feel Good Stat of the Week

The Colts' success has been due to their ability to dictate game action.

They are third in the league in offensive first downs and 17th in the NFL in defensive first downs.

Most of Indy's problems on defense are caused by a lack of dynamic talent. They don't generate sacks or turnovers.

In their favor, however, is that they've been reasonably efficient at stopping drives. They are eighth in punts forced per drive according to Jim Armstrong of Football Outsiders.

All this allows the Colts to get stops and control the action.

They still need to convert first downs into points and force more turnovers, but at the very least they can control the action and dictate the pace of the game.

 

Troubling Stat of the Week

In this 7-1 stretch that has catapulted Indy into the playoff picture, they've defeated the following quarterbacks:

Brandon Weeden (29th in DVOA), Matt Hasselbeck (24th), Ryan Tannehill (27th), Blaine Gabbert (35th), Ryan Fitzpatrick (20th), Matt Stafford (13th) and Jake Locker (28th)

For the record, Matt Schaub is ranked 10th.

If there is a bright side for the Colts, potential first-round foe Joe Flacco is ranked 19th.

The Colts are going to have to prove they can contain a good passing offense. They gave up plenty of points to the Lions and were annihilated by the Patriots.

Matt Schaub of the Texans may not be an elite quarterback, but he's superior to anyone Indy has played in a while.

The secondary needs more big plays like the one Vaughn provided.

 

Overall Trend: Rising

The Colts are still improving week by week even as the efficiency of Luck erodes.

As teams figure out what Indy is trying to do offensively, they are having more and more trouble executing deep downfield.

However, the defense seems to have stabilized and risen from being the worst unit in football as they were a few weeks ago to more of a generically bad defense.

The net effect has been enough to lift the Colts over their opponents week after week.

Indy will likely be grossly overmatched in the playoffs, but if they can land a first-round date with the suspect Baltimore Ravens, it's not impossible to believe they'll achieve something truly memorable: a playoff win.

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