INDIANAPOLIS – It’s a team built a bit differently than many in the NFL.
After another slow start to a season, the Colts (9-6) have got things back on track behind a star-studded run game and being an extremely disciplined team on a weekly basis.
Thanks to the Colts having held double-digit leads in 10 of their last 11 games (going 8-3 in those contests) many have pegged them as a favorite in a wide-open AFC.
Sure, questions remain about the consistency of a pass rush, the play of Carson Wentz/the passing offense and the need for a reliable kicking game past 45 yards.
But the Colts still have formulated a blueprint that has many believing they are capable of making some late-January noise.
What are those reasons?
Star Capable Of Playing Keep Away
There aren’t many running backs that strike a huge amount of fear for an opponent.
Jonathan Taylor, and his home run ability, is one of those guys.
With Taylor, the Colts have a consistent and productive runner that can control clock and wear down an opposing defense.
That’s important in trying to limit possessions and stymie more high-octane passing offenses.
Can Handle The Elements
In rainy and windy conditions this year, it’s been the Colts handling those elements far better than the home teams they played in San Francisco and Buffalo.
Despite being the controlled climate ‘dome team,’ the Colts are built much better than most to play outdoors in January.
Plus, look at the AFC teams in the playoff race that play outdoors (New England, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Kansas City, Denver). Outside of the Colts, Chargers and Raiders, all the possible AFC playoff teams play outdoors, and many in climates that can turn ugly in the winner.
That’s good news for the ground and pound Colts.
Even in those tough weather conditions, the staples of the 2021 Colts have been there.
That’s been limited penalties committed and protecting the football.
The Colts rank 3rd in fewest penalties committed this season. They are tied for 8th in giveaways. That’s a pretty good combination for playoff success. Toss in special teams controlling field position as another consistent aspect for the Colts.
Now, playoff football creates a different amount of pressure, but in the intense matchup with New England a few weeks back, it was the Colts that were the far more disciplined team in these aspects.
Create Extra Opportunities
The Colts have carried one of (if not) the best turnover margins in the NFL all season long.
Only Dallas has forced more turnovers than the Colts’ 31 takeaways. With 17 interceptions and 14 forced fumbles, the Colts have done it in both facets of getting the ball.
In creating so many extra opportunities for their offense, the Colts have done a couple of things.
They’ve helped out their offense, which isn’t as explosive as some other teams ranking near the top of the NFL in points per game. They’ve struck some fear into opponents knowing how active they are in seeking out the football.