What Do Indianapolis Colts Need to Clinch Playoff Berth?

Jeremy Sickel@https://twitter.com/JeremySickelContributor IIIDecember 10, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 09:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts throws a pass during the NFL game against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 9, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Indianapolis Colts improved to 9-4 on Sunday with their 27-23 victory over the Tennessee Titans.

If Andrew Luck and Co. can win one more game in the season's final three weeks, this team will join the 2008 Miami Dolphins as the only other franchise in NFL history to win double-digits games following a season in which it lost at least 14—a victory that should also punch Indy's ticket to the postseason.

Coming into 2012, expectations for the Colts were scattered. Assuming this team would be sitting in this favorable position as the season closes, however, was unfathomable.

Even the most-tireless of Luck supporters couldn't have dreamed this up.

While Sunday's win certainly wasn't a result of desirable play on a weekly basis, the Colts are gaining valuable experience for the potential playoff grind.

Indianapolis plays a home-and-home series with the Houston Texans that sandwiches a road game against the Kansas City Chiefs to wrap up the regular season.

Though the Colts may not eventually need it—depending on how the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals finish—drawing a Houston team that could have the AFC clinched at home in Week 17 could end up being a less-difficult matchup than traveling to Arrowhead Stadium the previous week.

With the AFC playoff picture still a very fluid situation, continuing to win is the only way to guarantee the chance to play, come January. Now riding a three-game winning streak, the Colts might be getting hot at just the right time.

Losses by the Steelers or Bengals would also ensure that the Colts extend their season. With these two teams playing each other in Week 16, Indy's road to the postseason is theirs for the taking.

Though playoff success is the ultimate goal for any team, just reaching that point has to be considered a triumph for this team.

Closing the chapter on the Peyton Manning era was certainly a complicated decision. But if this season is any indication of the future under Luck, that pill is suddenly a lot easier to swallow.

Follow Jeremy on Twitter @KCPopFlyBoy.


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