INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Depending upon your cliché of choice, the Indianapolis Colts either have nothing to play for or are playing out the string.
They’ve reached the one-and-done portion of the season. They entertain the Houston Texans Sunday in Lucas Oil Stadium, then head into an offseason of uncertainty.
But first things first.
There are things to play for. Let’s peruse some of what’s in play:
Draft positioning: The Colts’ 3-12 record has them sitting on the No. 3 rung in next April’s NFL Draft. They can’t slide lower, but upward mobility remains a possibility. They can move to No. 2 overall if they lose to the 4-11 Texans AND the 2-13 New York Giants win at home against Washington.
It’s that simple. The Colts would win a 3-13 deadlock with the Giants based on having an easier strength of schedule.
2018 opponents: Fourteen of next season’s opponents are locked in. The final two, based on facing teams from the AFC North and AFC West that finish at the same place in division standings, hinge on Sunday’s results. The Colts finish third in the AFC South – if possible, appreciate the little things – by sweeping the Texans.
As the fourth-place finisher, the Colts currently are paired against the Cleveland Browns and Denver. If they move up to third, they get Cincinnati and either the Broncos or Oakland Raiders.
The other home opponents: Houston, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Buffalo, Miami, Dallas and the New York Giants.
The other road opponents: Houston, Jacksonville, Tennessee, New England, the New York Jets, Philadelphia and Washington.
Chasing stats: Wideout T.Y. Hilton needs 48 yards to post his fifth consecutive 1,000-yard season. He would join Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne as the only Colts with at least five straight.
Things will be a bit tougher from running back Frank Gore to breach the 1,000-yard mark. He needs 139 yards against the Texans for a second straight 1,000-yard season and the 10th of his 13-year career.
The last Colt with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons: Edgerrin James in 2004-05.