Now that everyone is aware the Indianapolis Colts need not one, two, three or even four, but NINE games to fall their way for the team to make the playoffs lets look at the one that matters most for not ending the season in week 17. What do the Colts have to play for if they are knocked out of the playoff hunt though if even one of those don’t go their way? There is plenty to play for if you’re looking at this as a try-out game or a game to get to the .500 mark. Both teams will be without their starting quarterbacks and both teams have had a rough go this season. The Titans have had it worse record wise, but this has been a horrible season for the Colts when you include expectations.
The Colts have signed former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman to a contract as well as ex-Cardinal Ryan Lindley. With Andrew Luck still up in the air, “Clipboard Jesus” Charlie Whitehurst on the IR, and Matt Hasselbeck basically beaten to a pulp the Colts have to turn to a QB that hasn’t been on the team at all this year. Do they trust in Freeman or Lindley enough to go out there and take the beating with their past playing experiences or do they go with Stephen Morris who has had more time with the team and the playbook? Here are some other things to watch for this weekend.
1. Frank Gore looks for 1,000 yards
Frank Gore needs 109 yards to eclipse the 1,000 yard mark. Against a terrible Titans team it’s very possible, but the Colts O-Line will have to play their asses off which they haven’t done much this season. This weekend the team will rely on the legs of Frank The Tank and “Boom” Herron to win. The quarterback situation is horrendous and the coaches can’t expect to have Morris, Freeman, or Lindley lead this team to a .500 season. Gore needs to get 22-25 carries this week and hopefully Colts fans can see their first 1,000 yard rushers in years and 100 yard game rusher since Vick Ballard in 2012.
2. Rookies and back-ups being plugged in at spots
Rookies like linebacker Amarlo Herrera and right tackle Denzel Good should get some more playing time this week. That will allow the Colts coaching staff more tape on them to evaluate as they go into the offseason and when it comes time to build the roster again. Guys who aren’t getting much playing time need to have some time in this game. Blow out or not it has to happen. The front office needs to see the young talent they have so they know what positions to focus on for the upcoming draft.
3. Stephen Morris getting his first NFL start
I know I addressed this at the top, but it will be the biggest story of this game. Well, other than the two star starting quarterbacks both being out due to injury and the fact that the Colts or playing for a .500 season and the Titans are playing to win the first pick in the NFL draft sweepstakes. Okay, so Stephen Morris is like third or fourth on the importance ladder, but it’s important nonetheless. Letting him get some starting experience will help his young career and who the hell knows, it could land him the back-up roll on this team next year as they’ll need one with Hasselbeck retiring.
4. An emotional good-bye from Coach Pags
By now we all should be aware that this will be Coach Chuck Pagano‘s last game as the Colts head coach and even more than likely the last for this entire coaching staff. Coach Pagano is an emotional man and he loves this team. He will have a very emotional pre and post game locker room speech and I’m sure it will get us all in the feels. Coach Pags may have made some dumb mistakes as the head coach here, but one thing is for sure: he never gave up on his men and he damn sure won’t this week. Also going 8-8 is better than 7-9 on the ole’ coaching resume when it comes to finding a new job.
When the Colts play this Sunday we won’t be watching or listening because we know there is something to play for, but we can finally watch a game as fans and really just enjoy watching it. We can sit and watch what players are best suited to move forward with this team and the guys who the Colts should say goodbye to as well. I think the hardest things about this upcoming game is that Andrew Luck won’t see the field again in 2015 and that we won’t see Chuck on the Colts sidelines again. So enjoy the game this weekend and let us all hope for a Colts victory.