INDIANAPOLIS – Put simply, the Colts need to win games right now.
Preferably, those wins would stack together and push the 1-3 Colts toward .500 as they hit a stretch that is nowhere near as daunting as this start to the season.
But another layer of playing on Monday night is the caliber of team that will be on the other sideline.
The Colts will be facing the 3-1 Baltimore Ravens. Since drafting Lamar Jackson in 2018, the Ravens have gone 35-13 and made the playoffs in each of those three years. Frank Reich pointed out on Thursday that the Ravens are 14-1 in their last 15 home primetime games.
Monday’s matchup is one pitting the Colts against a playoff-type team.
And in such meetings as of late, the Colts have not fared well.
The Colts have lost 6 straight games against playoff teams. In the last two years, the Colts have won just 3 of their last 10 against such competition (beating Chicago, Green Bay and Tennessee last season).
Unlike the early years of the Reich era, the Colts have been unable to beat top teams in the league recently.
Not only is Monday’s game—regardless the opponent—massive for a team trying to climb back into the playoff picture, but it’s another measuring stick for a Colts team that hasn’t delivered on such stages.
The goal for this 2021 season wasn’t as much about the Colts being a better than .500 team.
That was expected.
More of the question was how the Colts could handle what comes at them in January.
Like they did in ending last season, the result against such teams hasn’t been where it needs to be this season.
In last year’s meeting against the Ravens, Frank Reich pointed out the opportunity that was there in facing one of the better teams in the AFC.
A similar sentiment could be said this week, even with the Ravens having a slew of guys already on injured reserve.
After Monday, seeing a sure-fire playoff team won’t occur for the Colts again until late November.
In 2020, the Colts played the NFL’s easiest schedule.
That isn’t the case in 2021.
And in order for this season to be turned around completely, games like Monday are going to have be a different result than they’ve been recently for Reich’s Colts.
One Colts captain knows the extra that is at stake here in Week 15.
“Your adrenaline is always going a little more in the primetime games, against a big opponent in the AFC,” DeForest Buckner says.
“This would definitely be a big-time win for us against one of the better teams in the AFC. I know a lot of guys are locked in this week ready to go.”