This past week the Colts received their second loss in nine games, ensuring that the division title will go to the Houston Texans for the second straight year. However, the Colts did not lose their chance at a playoff spot, an incredible feat in itself, and will look to clinch their berth as a wild card team on Sunday against the Chiefs.
The Chiefs aren't the Colts' most impressive opponent, rather they are currently tied with Jacksonville for the worst record in the league. But, remember, the Colts lost to that Jacksonville team earlier this season, and anything can happen in today's NFL. So, in order to beat Kansas City and secure a playoff berth, Indianapolis will need a few players to step up and play better than they did against Houston.
The Right Side
The Colts' offensive line was bad all around last week against the Texans' formidable defensive front, and was a big reason why they could not sustain anything on offense. The biggest culprits came on the right side: RG Mike McGlynn and RT Jeff Linkenbach. McGlynn had his worst pass blocking game of the season, earning a -7.0 grade in pass protection. McGlynn's overall grade for the day was the second worst among any guard in the NFL during week 15, as he allowed nine pressures on just 38 dropbacks. Linkenbach wasn't any better, as his overall performance was rated second worst for tackles in Week 15.
It's not often that you'll find the Colts' #1 receiver on this list, as he's had a phenomenal season thus far. But against Houston, Wayne was shut down, only managing three catches for 14 yards. Seven of those yards came on the last play of the game, a meaningless play. So, for impact purposes, Wayne only managed seven yards on two catches. Wayne didn't have any "technical" drops on the day, but he had multiple plays in which he didn't pull in a ball that was certainly catchable, especially by his standards.
Like Wayne, this isn't a name that we want to see on this list often. But, the fact is that Luck is in a bit of a funk. He's been trending downward during the last three weeks, and it's been clear in the offense's efficiency. The good news for Colts' fans is that this is directly related to the offensive line. Luck isn't just regressing for regression's sake, but is clearly having trouble dealing with the pressure coming through a weak offensive line. For the long term, this will be dealt with, but for this season, Luck needs to improve his adaptation in the face of pressure, and be patient, or we'll continue to see his throws sailing on him and missing open receivers.
I talked earlier this week about Davis, and how his coverage was actually better than it seemed at times on Sunday. But the fact is that Davis' coverage means little if he cannot use it to break up passes. And last week he didn't do that, giving up 119 yards on eight catches and failing to break up a pass. Davis' grade overal was 89th out of 92 cornerbacks in Week 15, and the Colts will need more from him against the Chiefs this week, perhaps forcing a turnover or two.
The Colts' leading tackler missed practice on Wednesday with a thumb injury, but if he can play, the Colts will need him at his best against Jamaal Charles and the Kansas City run offense. Freeman got swallowed up behind the Houston line at times on Sunday, and although he finished the game with five defensive stops, he allowed Arian Foster to run wild during the fourth quarter.
If it seems like this week's list is full of some of the Colts' best players, it's not by accident. The Colts' stars dropped the ball on Sunday, and Bethea was a perfect example. Bethea didn't finish as the lowest rated defender by PFF's standards, but had a -1.8 overal grade, something the Colts cannot afford from their veteran in the defensive backfield. Bethea, generally a tackle machine, only managed five tackles, and missed two others. He did knock one pass down, but the Colts will need him to be solid in run defense as well against Kansas City.