Indianapolis Colts' Possible Playoff Scenarios (And Why They Need To Play Hard)

Corey McSweeneyAnalyst IDecember 18, 2008

Don’t tell me the Colts need to mail it in these last two weeks, especially for the Tennessee game.

It’s a ridiculous idea, and here’s why.

Let’s look at the possible playoff scenarios. For one, the Colts haven’t actually locked up a playoff spot yet but will do so with one more win, so tonight’s game against Jacksonville is a game they must try to win.

If they do win tonight and then lose to Tennessee next week, they will be in a battle for the fifth playoff position with whomever gets out of the scrum of the Ravens and the AFC division runner up.

Let's look at these teams remaining games. Baltimore is at Dallas this week and home against Jacksonville next week. I’ll give them a loss against Dallas and a win over Jacksonville, a game for their playoff lives.

That leaves them 10-6.

 Let’s look at New England. They have a home game against the Cardinals and a road game against the Bills. The Cardinals have nothing to play for, and I’m sure The Sweater doesn’t want a first round away game, so I’m giving the Pats these two wins, finishing at 11-5.

That leaves us with the Jets and Dolphins. New York has a road game against Seattle and a home game with the Dolphins. We all know the East-West road woes, so I’m not so sure the Jets beat Seattle Sunday. However, with their hopes tied up in winning these pivotal games, I’ll give them a win there.

The Dolphin game will be absolutely huge. We’ll get to that game in a minute. Miami has a road game against Kansas City this weekend, a mortal lock for a victory. Now we have the showdown.

If the Jets win, they will be tied with the Patriots and win the tiebreaker because they would have a better division record. If Miami wins, they would win the tiebreaker because they would have a better record in common games.

The winner of the AFC East will be the third seed, Denver the fourth seed. New England gets the final playoff spot.

The Colts have the tiebreaker over them because the beat the Patriots head to head. However, if the Patriots win out and the Colts lose both of their remaining games (highly possible if they rest players), the Colts would have to travel to New York or Miami, against traveling to Denver.

Do you remember what the Colts have done to the Broncos in the playoffs? I would much rather Peyton and Co. go there and play the Pillsbury Doughboy soft Denver D than head east against formidable foes they haven’t seen much of.

With all that, getting to the playoffs is the important thing, and playing well in the playoffs. That brings me to my next point.

I know Tony Dungy wants to rest players as the season winds down because the Colts are notorious for getting banged up with all of their small players, and supposedly rest helps a team, but do you remember what happened in 2005 when the Colts were 14-1, rested all of their team against the Seahawks, and then got beaten by Pittsburgh in their first playoff game?

Do you remember in 2006 when the Colts had a meaningful game the last week of the season against Miami, played hard and won, and then went on to win the Super Bowl? You have to keep playing and keep your momentum.

Let’s use some of that ’06 magic.