For Colts, it’s simple: Win and in the playoffs

Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Darius Leonard (53) celebrates alongside teammate Nyheim Hines (21) after intercepting a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

INDIANAPOLIS – Four months of blown leads, an inspiring resurgence and mounting COVID-19 issues have been reduced to one simple reality: win and in.

That’s the scenario for the Indianapolis Colts in Sunday’s meeting with the Las Vegas Raiders Sunday in Lucas Oil Stadium.

A victory over the Raiders clinches at least a wild-card spot and a third postseason appearance in four seasons under Frank Reich. A first AFC South title since 2014 remains possible, but it’s remote. Tennessee clinches the division by winning one of its two remaining games or with one Colts’ loss over the final two weeks.

The task certainly became more difficult with Tuesday’s news that quarterback Carson Wentz was placed on the COVID-19 list. If he misses the game, rookie Sam Ehlinger steps in.

According to, the Colts head into the weekend with a 97% chance of securing one of the AFC’s three wild-card spots. At 9-6 after winning eight of their last 10, they’re clutching the conference’s No. 5 seed.

Indy and 9-6 New England (94%) possess the best playoff odds among the non-division leaders. The Los Angeles Chargers are at 33%, the Miami Dolphins 32% and the Baltimore Ravens 30%.

The Raiders are 8-7, seeded No. 9 and have just a 16% shot at the postseason, but clinch a playoff spot with a win over the Colts and in their finale at home against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Under the current scenario, the Colts would return to No. 4 seed Buffalo for a first-round playoff rematch. The Bills bounced them from the playoffs last season in Orchard Park, N.Y. 27-24, but Indy throttled them 41-15 in week 11.

Sizing up the AFC field

1. Kansas City (11-4): at Cincinnati (9-6), at Denver (7-8).

2. Tennessee (10-5): vs. Miami (8-7), at Houston (3-12).

3. Cincinnati (9-6): vs. Kansas City (11-4), at Cleveland (7-7).

4. Buffalo (9-6): vs. Atlanta (7-8), vs. New York Jets (4-11).

5. Colts (9-6): vs. Las Vegas (8-7), at Jacksonville (2-13).

6. New England (9-6): vs. Jacksonville (2-13), at Miami (8-7).

7. Baltimore (8-7): vs. Las Vegas (8-7), vs. Pittsburgh (7-7-1).

8. Los Angeles Chargers (8-7): vs. Denver (7-8), at Las Vegas (8-7).

9. Las Vegas (8-7): at Colts (9-6), vs. Los Angeles Chargers (8-7).

10. Pittsburgh (7-7-1): vs. Cleveland (7-8), at Baltimore (8-7).

11. Miami (8-7): at Tennessee (10-5), vs. New England (9-6).

12. Cleveland (7-8): Pittsburgh (7-7-1), vs. Cincinnati (9-6).

13. Denver (7-8): at Los Angeles Chargers (8-7), vs. Kansas City (11-4).

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