INDIANAPOLIS – For a second straight year, the Colts (6-6) should be grateful for their schedule in pursuing the playoffs.
In 2020, the Colts benefitted from playing the easiest schedule in the NFL, which aided them in going 11-5 and getting the final postseason spot in the AFC.
And in 2021, the Colts have put themselves in a favorable tiebreaker situation thanks to having more than half of their games against the AFC South and AFC East.
That would be having a 5-3 conference record.
When it comes to deciding tiebreakers among Wild Card candidates, if the teams did not play each other head-to-head during the season, then conference record is the next deciding factor.
For the Colts, given their rotational schedule that had the AFC East on the slate this year, they have played, or will play, just 2 of the other 8 teams in the current Wild Card mix (see more below).
And the best part of that is the Colts carry a 5-3 record against AFC teams this season, which is currently the 2nd best conference mark of those 8 teams.
Let’s say the current division leaders (Baltimore at 8-3, New England at 8-4, Tennessee at 8-4, Kansas City at 7-4) go ahead and win their respective divisions (and the Colts should be pulling for that to happen).
That puts these teams in the Wild Card right now, with their current record and conference record:
4 seed: Bengals (7-4, 5-2)
5 seed: Bills (7-4, 5-4)
6 seed: Chargers (6-5, 4-3)
Outside Looking In
Raiders (6-5, 4-3)
Broncos (6-5, 3-4)
Colts (6-6, 5-3)
Steelers (5-5-1, 3-4)
Browns (6-6, 3-5)
Dolphins (5-7, 4-5)
With the Colts having 5 games left in the regular season and 4 against the conference (at Texans, Patriots, Raiders, at Jaguars), there’s a good chance that tiebreaker will be in their favor against several other Wild Card candidates at the end of the season.
The beauty of playing the Texans, Jaguars, Dolphins and Jets a total of 6 times this season will be huge for the Colts trying to get into the playoffs.
While the AFC West and AFC North teams have strong, consistent, competition throughout their 8 divisional games, and don’t benefit from playing the entire AFC East or AFC South this season, the Colts have chewed up on such teams.
And as long as Indy wins 4 of their last 5 (or perhaps 3 of their 5, if the Patriots and/or Raiders are in those wins), they should be in the playoffs for a second straight season.
Finishing 10-7 should have the Colts in the playoffs and a 9-8 mark (with the right AFC wins) could have them in the postseason, as well.