Colts keep playoff hopes alive with a messy Week 17 win against Raiders

The Indianapolis Colts took care of business against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 17, setting up a high-stakes-filled Week 18 meeting with the Houston Texans.
Las Vegas Raiders v Indianapolis Colts
Las Vegas Raiders v Indianapolis Colts / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

It wasn’t pretty, but the Indianapolis Colts ultimately moved to 9-7 on Sunday after defeating the Las Vegas Raiders 23-20. With the win, the Colts kept hold of the No. 7 seed in the AFC playoffs and they also still have the chance to win the AFC South. However, Indianapolis will need to be much more consistent than it was on Sunday to secure a postseason spot.

Indy did a lot of good things offensively on Sunday, playing behind the team’s quality rushing attack. Jonathan Taylor carried the ball 21 times for 96 yards and a touchdown. Overall, the team ran 29 times for 134 yards— 4.6 yards a carry. It’s no coincidence that Indy dominated on the ground the same day starting right tackle Braden Smith returned to the lineup. He’s also probably a big reason why the Colts only allowed one sack.

With Gardner Minshew staying off the ground, Indianapolis had a nice day through the air. Minshew completed 15-of-23 passes for 224 yards and a long touchdown to Alec Pierce. Minshew connected with eight different receivers on Sunday.

The inconsistency came on the defensive side of the ball. The Colts recorded just two sacks, allowing rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell to throw for 299 yards and two touchdowns. The defense was noticeably conservative in the second half and that allowed the Raiders to make things close in the end. The soft coverage approach from the Colts led to even more criticism for defensive coordinator Gus Bradley.

Ultimately, the Colts won and will play a big game in Week 18 against the Houston Texans.

Colts set up big regular-season finale against Texans

Like Indy, Houston is now 9-7. Also 9-7 is the Jacksonville Jaguars. If Jacksonville loses in Week 18, the winner of the game between the Texans and the Colts will win the AFC South. Even if the Jaguars win next week, the game between Indy and Houston will still have playoff implications.

Currently, the Colts are the seventh and final seed in the AFC Playoffs; the first team out is the Houston Texans. While there are a lot of other moving parts in the AFC Playoff picture, it’s very likely that the winner between Indianapolis and Houston goes to the postseason and the loser starts its offseason. That means the Colts must be prepared to play their best game of the season in Week 18.