The next three Sundays will be the most difficult of the season for the undefeated Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts, the fifth team in NFL history to go 12-0, face the Jacksonville Jaguars, the San Diego Chargers, and the Seattle Seahawks before they end the season at home against the Arizona Cardinals.
Only one team, the 1972 Miami Dolphins, won all its regular-season games (14 then) but the last three teams to go 12-0 (the 1972 Dolphins, the 1985 Chicago Bears and the 1998 Denver Broncos) all won the Super Bowl.
With a win over the Jaguars, the Colts would capture the AFC South title and a first-round bye in the playoffs. The Colts beat the Jaguars earlier this season, 10-3. It was an unusual win for the team that’s become successful because of its high-scoring offense. This season, Indy’s defense has made the difference in tough games.
“We understand it’s important,” Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio told First Coast News. “It’s a divisional game, an AFC game, it’s a home game and a good football team. So, a lot to be excited about.”
Marvin Harrison’s first reception against the Titans, a 36-yarder on the Colts’ opening drive, made Harrison the 12th player in league history to top 12,000 yards receiving. His 10-yard TD catch on the Colts’ opening possession was the 92nd between Manning and Harrison, also extending that duo’s NFL record.
Following the Jaguars, the Colts will have to find a way to stop San Diego running back Ladainian Tomlinson, who is fifth in the league in rushing yards, behind the Colts’ Edgerrin James, in the first place spot.
The Seahawks, who beat the sputtering Eagles 42-0 Monday night, have already clinched the NFC West title.
The biggest question Colts head coach Tony Dungy faced this week was about his prime-time players and whether they would play in games at the end of the season that had no impact on the Colts’ playoff situation.
"It’s really kind of a no-brainer," Dungy told Sports Illustrated. "As soon as the games aren’t meaningful in the standings, it’s something we’ll think about. They don’t give out rings for being 16-0. They give out rings for winning the Super Bowl. And everything we do will be with that goal in mind."