Colts’ strengths disappeared in embarrassing loss to Falcons, now playoffs are in jeopardy

The Indianapolis Colts have done a lot of things well all season, but that wasn’t the case on Sunday, during Indy’s Week 16 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
Indianapolis Colts v Atlanta Falcons
Indianapolis Colts v Atlanta Falcons / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

The Indianapolis Colts entered Week 16 rolling. As one of the hottest teams in the league, Indy had its sight’s set on the playoffs and possibly a division title, and had been playing some really good football. However, that wasn’t the team that showed up in Sunday’s loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Falling 29-10 in the Week 16 road game, Indianapolis was unable to do any of the things that helped it win eight games this season.

Throughout the year, the Colts have been able to protect the quarterback, run the ball well, take the ball away, rush the quarterback, and persevere in the face of obstacles. Indy didn’t do any of those things on Sunday.

Starting on the offensive side of the ball, Indianapolis had one of its worst outings of the season, scoring just 10 points— tying the team’s season low. The biggest concern was the offensive line. The Colts ran for 92 yards on 25 carries, but the real problem was pass protection. Gardner Minshew was sacked six times and was under pressure on several more plays.

Despite having a bounce-back year, the offensive line reverted back to the abysmal kind of pass protection that was common a season ago. Notably, starting right tackle Braden Smith was out for a third straight game, leaving rookie Blake Freeland, who has been struggling, in the lineup.

As much as the offensive line struggled on Sunday, that wasn’t the most disappointing aspect of the game. That title belongs to the Indy’s defense. The Colts haven’t been good on defense all year, but they’ve consistently found ways to make big plays; either by sacking the quarterback or taking the ball away.

Indy’s streak of 19 consecutive games with a forced turnover was snapped on Sunday, despite the defense having opportunities. Additionally, the Colts recorded just one sack. The lack of big plays was just the surface of the defensive issues. The unit wasn’t playing with energy like it usually is and key players like Zaire Franklin and EJ Speed had very underwhelming performances.

In the end, the Colts looked like a team that deserved to lose 29-10, not a team that’s trying to clinch a playoff spot. Luckily, the poor performance didn’t kill Indy’s playoff hopes.

Are Colts still in playoff picture after losing to Falcons?

Fortunately, Indianapolis wasn’t the only team with an underwhelming day on Sunday. The Houston Texans also lost, falling to the Cleveland Browns 36-22. Because of this loss by Houston, Indy would still be the seventh and final seed if the playoffs ended today. Additionally, the loss being to the NFC Falcons doesn’t hurt Indy in any tie-breaking situations.

The most concerning aspect about Indy’s playoff hopes is what the team put on the field on Sunday. If the Colts play the next two weeks like they did on Sunday, they can kiss the postseason goodbye.