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Indianapolis Colts: Will the Colts Make the NFL Playoffs?

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 16:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts avoids the tackle by J.J. Watt #99 of the Houston Texans in the second half at Reliant Stadium on December 16, 2012 in Houston, Texas. Texans win 29-17 to clinch the AFC South. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images
Andy KontyCorrespondent IIDecember 19, 2012

The Indianapolis Colts hold their NFL playoff fate in their own hands.  Wow.  Who would have thought about writing that sentence in the tumultuous offseason?

Yet, here we are, Week 16, and the Colts need only a win or tie in their final two games in order to make the playoffs following their disastrous 2-14 season.  The Colts can also back into the playoffs if the Pittsburgh Steelers lose or tie one of their remaining games, OR the Colts win a "strength of victory" tiebreaker over the Cincinnati Bengals.  

The Steelers play the Bengals in Week 16 and the Bengals clinch a playoff spot with a win.  So even with a loss to the Chiefs in Week 16 the Colts can still find themselves playoff bound going into the last week of the regular season.  Since the Steelers play the hapless Browns in the final week, Colts fans should hope its settled in the penultimate week.

Of course a Colts' win (or two) is what the team's fans are hoping for, and it could come against the 2-12 Kansas City Chiefs.  This game should make Colts' fans nervous because the Colts have shown an alarming knack for playing down to their competition before cashing in some lucky breaks late in the games—Detroit Lions anyone?  

If the Colts' playoff hopes roll into the last week of the season there is reason to be optimistic, especially if the Texans dispatch the Minnesota Vikings in Week 16.  Under that scenario the Texans will have clinched AFC home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, and they will be tempted to rest some starters in what would be a meaningless game to the Texans.  

If the Texans come to Indianapolis in the final week needing a win to clinch home-field advantage, then the Colts will need to produce their best game of the season.  Playing that game in the comfy confines of Lucas Oil Stadium could see the Colts come out on top.  At the very least the Colts' home base will be treated to a meaningful game against a quality opponent.

If the Colts make the playoffs a Wild Card game at the Baltimore Ravens is the likely matchup.  The Ravens defense is surprisingly mediocre this year, though their careful offense has them ranked 6th in turnover margin (+10). 

Fortunately for the Colts, the Ravens rank second to last in penalty yards, while the Colts are number one.  As this seems to be the key stat for the Colts this season, watch it closely if the Colts find their way into B&T Bank Stadium.

Of course, the entire Colts resurgence could unravel as the law of averages catches up to them and the balls that have been bouncing their way throughout this remarkable season suddenly start to bounce like a... well, like a football.

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