It sounds cliche to say a team wants to start off Week 1 with a victory. It’s obvious everyone wants to win every game no matter what’s a stake, but for the Indianapolis Colts, they’re treating their Week 1 matchup with the Oakland Raiders as a must-win.
The reason why it’s a must-win is the Colts have to take care of business against a team they’re supposed to beat if they want to make the playoffs in year two of a so-called rebuild.
Last season, the Colts surprised everyone. No one gave them much hope to finish anywhere close to .500, but they overachieved winning 11 games and making the Wildcard round in the AFC playoffs. Now, expectations are high in Indianapolis as they’re in year two with this system and finally signed guys to play in it.
They have to beat a rebuilding team like Oakland in Week 1 defending their home field, and they can’t afford to drop what appears to be an early victory.
“Always, always. Always want to take a step forward,” said veteran Cory Redding on winning Week 1. “You never want to take a step back. We had a real good preseason. Guys got better. All our veterans got better from day one. We just want to go out there and see what we’ve got.”
Colts linebacker Robert Mathis echoed Redding’s statement as well.
“You treat the first game like it’s the last game,” said Mathis. “It’s a must-win, so work hard. Just got to play hard now.”
This game shouldn’t really even be close. Oakland is coming off of a dismal season in 2012 going 4-12. They really aren’t that much improved as they will be around that record in 2013. With the Colts being a Super Bowl contender, they can’t drop an early game against a team like Oakland, especially at home.
“Absolutely. Like every team out there in any sport, you want to start off the season with a win,” said quarterback Andrew Luck on starting off with a win. “That gets you going in the right direction. We know it’s going to be tough sledding. The Raiders are tough and watching their defense, they’re athletic. They fly around to the ball. I have very, very high respect for their defensive coordinator, Jason Tarver, who was one of my coaches at Stanford for a while. It’s going to be tough.”
The Colts are saying the right things going into this game. They seem focused and need to win this game Sunday.
Eric Smith is the Colts Beat Writer for Rant Sports. He’s covered the team the last four years and is recognized as an accredited member of the media. Follow him on Twitter @ericsportsguru.
All quotes obtained first-hand.