Should the Colts Sit Their Starters Like They Did Against Jets in 2009?

Eric SmithCorrespondent IIIDecember 21, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS - DECEMBER 27:  Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts and Head Coach Jim Caldwell are pictured on the sideline during the NFL game against the New York Jets at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 27, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Manning and many of the starters were pulled from the game in the second half and the Colts went on to lose their first game of the season 29-15.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Colts have finally broken the goose egg with their 27-13 win over the Tennessee Titans last Sunday in Lucas Oil Stadium. That's all good news, but for those fans wanting the Colts to get the No. 1 Pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the win actually didn't help their cause.

Indianapolis at 1-13 is currently in the No. 1 spot for next April's draft. Since the midway part of the season where it looked like the Colts could possibly get the top pick, everyone has been talking about what the Colts should do if they had it.

The debate the past two months has been "Do you take Andrew Luck and get rid of Peyton Manning? Do you trade the pick and keep Manning? Or do you risk taking Luck and hope that both players can excel and transition like the Packers did with Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers?"

With the win, the Colts now must lose one of their last two games to lock that top pick up. Minnesota and St. Louis currently sit 2-12 and are just one Colts win away from being tied for the top pick. To make matters worse for Indianapolis, it looks like neither Minnesota nor St. Louis will win a game the rest of the season.

Minnesota travels to Washington this week and hosts division rival Chicago next week. St. Louis travels to Pittsburgh this week and hosts division champion San Francisco. I don't see how or why the Vikings or Rams will win either of those two games.

That means if the Colts win tomorrow night or on New Years day against a very bad Jaguars team, they may not even get the top pick next year.

There goes all the Andrew Luck talk, and the what to do with Peyton conversation flies out the window.

The question that comes up now, is do the Colts sit their starters in one or both of their remaining games, or just ride it out and hope for a close loss?

The Colts want the top pick bad; they want and need Andrew Luck. Why not sit the starters and solidify your shot?

After all, they sat their starters just two years ago on this very same week against the New York Jets to throw away a perfect season after going 14-0. The fans in Indianapolis were extremely mad when head coach Jim Caldwell took his starters out after halftime of that week 16 game, and basically knew the pursuit for perfection didn't mean anything to the team.

That was a huge deal when the Colts did this, but was overshadowed when they ended up making it to the Super Bowl in Miami.

Now, they are faced with the same decision, but for the totally opposite reason. It's the same week in the season, and like 2009, it's the last home game.

I think the Colts ownership would love to lose this game and go for a win to end the season in Jacksonville knowing they clinched the top pick. They could breathe a lot easier since Jacksonville is so bad that the Colts backups can still probably beat them.

The problem is, do you sit your starters and try to lose in front of your home crowd that's been surprisingly faithful and loyal to you all season? These fans will dish out almost an average of $100 with all expenses included to watch this nationally televised rivalry game in person. Do you think they really want to see their team tank it just to earn the top pick when they can do the same the next week.

But, if you don't tank it and actually win, you get back to what I talked about before, and that's the backups can very well beat the Jags starters.

If they happen to win out, the Colts can fall to the third pick in the draft.

I think this is a very debatable topic and I wouldn't like to be in the position to make this call.