NFL Week 16, Part 1

The Colts should be able to clinch another playoff spot by winning in Jacksonville.

Topics: Football, Peyton Manning,

Things are looking up a little for the NFL Network’s game schedule. Last Thursday’s game was a good one, at long last, and while this one isn’t the game of the week or anything, it’s at least a divisional rivalry with some life. And then Saturday’s game, Baltimore at Dallas, is a good one.

INDIANAPOLIS (10-4) at Jacksonville (5-9)
This is the seventh straight year the Colts have won at least 10 games, the longest such streak in the league. The next longest is New England, which needs one win for its sixth straight double-digit-win season. The longest streak after that? Two years, including this year, by Pittsburgh, Tennessee and the New York Giants. And the longest streak that ended this year was also two, by San Diego.

The Colts and Patriots are kind of in their own world on this one.

Indy’s on a little bit of an under-the-radar roll here. The spotlight’s been on the Titans and Giants for most of the season, but as they’ve faltered a bit down the stretch, the Colts have won seven straight. The first two were over the Patriots and Steelers, all the rest have been against losing teams. But that’s the way most winning streaks in the NFL go.

It’s not clear the Colts are really as good as their win streak makes them look at first glance, but they’d clinch a playoff spot with a win, and they’ve got a pretty good quarterback.

The Jags beat the Colts on a late field goal in Week 3, and five weeks later they had the same 3-4 record as Indy did. But while the Colts took off from there, the Jags fell on their faces. They lost to the Bengals in Week 9, and that was pretty much that for 2008, a season that’s been filled with injuries, suspensions and general dissension in Jacksonville.

They’re one of the league’s biggest disappointments, which is sportswriter code for “I was wrong when I thought they were going to be pretty good this year.”

The Jags’ best chance in this one would be if Indianapolis were looking ahead to next week’s game against the Titans. But the Colts’ opportunity to clinch a playoff spot and the fact that the Titans have already secured the AFC South title should keep that from being an issue.
Kids: Indianapolis (6.5-point favorite)

King Kaufman is a senior writer for Salon. You can e-mail him at king at salon dot com. Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr

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