It’s hard to have a must-win football game in Week 7 of the NFL season, but last night’s contest against the Denver Broncos was just that for the Indianapolis Colts. They entered 4-2 coming off a horrible loss to a mediocre San Diego Chargers team. A loss to the Broncos would drop them to just one game over .500 heading into a bye week with a divisional showdown on Sunday night football against the Houston Texans in Reliant Stadium staring them in the face after.
Yes, the Texans are 2-5 and down this year but that’s a tough game. They realistically could have fallen to 4-4 heading into their home game with the St. Louis Rams. After that, it is two more road games with the Arizona Cardinals and the Tennessee Titans. None of those would be guaranteed if they slipped against Denver. They needed momentum, and they needed it big time.
A loss to Denver would basically erase those big wins against NFC West opponents the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers. Luckily, they didn’t have to worry about it as they beat Denver 39-33 improving to 5-2 on the season.
That win goes a long way towards their 2013 playoff aspirations. For starters, the entire division lost again yesterday minus the Colts. It was the third straight week that the Texans, Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars all lost. The Colts now hold a big two-game lead in the division race heading into the bye week and a three-game lead over the Texans.
The second good thing is a lot of AFC playoff contenders lost Sunday as well, putting the Colts in good position even if they don’t win the division and need a Wild Card. They hold an one-game lead over everybody else in the Wild Card race and that could extend further as the year goes on. This also does wonders to playoff seeding; if the Colts and Broncos both win their divisions and have the same record, Indianapolis holds the tiebreaker for a possible home-field advantage due to a head-to-head win.
Last night’s win was a humongous statement for Indianapolis in more ways than just Andrew Luck beating Peyton Manning. This had January implications writer all over it.
Eric Smith is the Colts Beat Writer for Rant Sports. He’s covered the team the past four seasons and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by the Colts. Follow him on Twitter @ericsportsguru