Does it feel like a playoff matchup? The Dolphins and Colts, the current wild-card teams in the AFC (huh?), both have a chance to really pull ahead in the playoff race; in that spirit, Nate Dunlevy breaks down this week's possible significance.
Because the conference is so weak, there are only a handful of teams that are going to get to nine wins. The Colts, Dolphins and Steelers may well be battling for the last two spots come December.
Right now, the Steelers are 2-3 in their conference, so they've fallen to 7th despite having a 4-3 record. The Colts also have a tougher division, in my opinion; Cleveland's very, very bad, and the Bengals can't pull off a divisional win (except against Cleveland). Baltimore's a top AFC team (cough), but I doubt it'll stick; they've only had one double digit win, and three of their others were within three points. The Ravens a few plays away from being very mediocre.
Houston's good; good enough to pull away from the rest of the AFC, and possibly let the last game go to secondary players. Imagine if they won a meaningless game against Indy, and Matt Schaub got knocked out. With last year still haunting Kubiak, I doubt Houston will play their starters any longer than they need to, so the Colts might be gifted with a win in week 17 (we can hope). Still, the Titans and Texans are tough opponents.
We'll see how it shakes down, but I think we can all agree: this week marks the most important test the Colts have had so far.