Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
This fall, the magazine will recap each week of the Colts’ strange, pandemic-hobbled season. This week: digital editor Derek Robertson, along with contributors Derek Schultz and Nate Miller look at a perfectly balanced win against the Detroit Lions.
Derek Robertson: I am writing this with fewer than seven minutes left in the fourth quarter of this game, as the Lions trail the Colts by twenty points. I have referenced in these round-ups before that I am a Detroit Lions fan, and I expected this weekend’s match-up to be a fun confluence of both my professional and personal football interests. Friends, it was not fun. But I suspect it was for you, as my team of hapless, Honolulu Blue-clad stooges made the Colts look like the ’72 Dolphins. There was just absolutely no answer for the Colts at the line of scrimmage on either offense or defense, and despite a troubling (and predictable) groin injury to T.Y. Hilton, the Colts’ offensive skill players picked up the slack in a way that we’d been waiting to see all season. Rivers was great. It was a complete performance from a team about which we had some serious questions coming off the bye week despite their winning record, and it has to have you feeling good about the Colts’ chances to get to 10 wins and a secure playoff berth this season. My main question right now, personally, is “Why do I allow the Detroit Lions to hurt me,” but I’m not getting an answer to that from anyone except the good Lord or my therapist. So I’ll ask you—where are you on the enthusiasm-o-meter for this team, about halfway through the season now?
Derek Schultz: Well, at least the Lions looked… uh… good in their uniforms? I have always thought that shade of blue with the silver helmets was the most aesthetically pleasing uniform combo in the NFL, but that’s about the only compliment I can give the modern-era franchise. As for the Colts, my enthusiasm-o-meter, on a 1-to-10 scale, is hovering around a 7. Clearly the Lions aren’t good, but I thought it was crucially important for the Colts to come out of the bye and assert themselves, and they played perhaps their most well-rounded game of the season (outside of the random, nightmarish day for the usually great or at least reliable Special Teams unit). The Colts are about to embark on a season-defining four-game stretch, so I’m a little less nauseous knowing they’re playing well heading into it.
Nate Miller: In Before Times, my enthusiasm-o-meter would be red-lined. But we are in The After, where paper towels are about to become our currency and Philip Rivers is the Colts’ quarterback. So weird! I spent all day on the couch in a Skittles coma and caught most of the game as I drifted in and out of consciousness. Halloween with little kids is like drinking a liter of strawberry-flavored Wild Turkey, except a billion times worse. Derek Sr. is right: the Lions jersey/helmet combo is fantastic. I spent most of the game texting with my favorite fat ex-IU and Lions quarterback, Chris Dittoe, who seems to know football (kind of). We were mostly engaged in a debate about who can throw a football farther, me or him. We tentatively agreed it was probably him. He thinks the Colts are better when they pass the ball a lot. I agree. Why do the Colts ever even run the ball?
DR: Fun fact: Jonathan Taylor ran for 22 yards on 11 carries in this game, which was seven yards fewer than… the Lions’ total team rushing. Jordan Wilkins stole the show for the Colts, and if you had that in the cards, please reach out so I can consult with you on entering the gambling market. Derek, to your point, I think this upcoming stretch is going to be fascinating for them. I’m going to put you guys on the spot and ask you to predict the outcomes for the next four games, and in the spirit of fairness I’ll go first: Ravens L (they’re not losing two in a row after this week), Titans W (overrated), Packers W (ditto), and Titans L (just playing the odds). That leaves them at a respectable 7-4 with a mostly soft schedule through the home stretch—what say you two?
DS: I’m going to just throw a blanket 2-2 on there. I don’t want to pick individually, because even if the Colts go 2-2, I’ll inevitably pick the wins as losses and the losses as wins. I’m the worst predictor ever. I thought the Zune was going to be HUGE and that Steph Curry was too skinny to be an NBA star. Regardless, 2-2 is definitely survivable, especially with the back of the AFC playoff chase looking pretty “meh” (Cleveland, Vegas, Miami… are we counting New England out? Because I’m ready to count New England out.)
NM: They will go 0-and-4. Sorry. That isn’t pessimism. It’s the truth. It’s where we are headed, and where we’ve always been headed. The next four weeks is going to be a rough ride. The Colts won’t win a game, American democracy will get “hobbled” like James Caan’s ankles in “Misery,” and there’s about to be a very real food shortage. We are on the brink of Civil War II (“2 Stupid 2 Furious”). This is why we can’t have nice things. So yeah—I don’t see the Colts beating ANY of these teams. I *DO* see roaming hordes of armed #MAGA zombies patrolling our streets, though. So that will be fun.
Also, Nyheim Hines is what happens if Vick Ballard’s twisting, vicious pylon-dive in Tennessee was an actual, real-life person who was also main-lining Red Bull and meth nonstop. He is a bolt of electricity in a helmet and pads. If I were Frank Reich, I would throw the ball to him a lot. (This portion of #FootballAnalytics Theater has been brought to you by 4 Miller Lite tall boys.)
DS: I think you need to #logoff Twitter for a bit, Nate. Put on some tunes (something upbeat, like Hanson). Spend time with your 3-5 kids. I don’t think this team is a contender or anything, but the Colts’ season, like our precious Union, are going to be OK! Right?! *gets passport renewed*
NM: Hanson rocks TOO hard. My nerves need calmed, DS—not injected with pure, uncut, face-shredding guitar riffs.
DR: I like this, we’re covering 360 degrees of the spectrum of confidence here, like the circumference of a Hines backflip. If we’re all able to safely recover from the combination of a Halloween sugar rush and the extreme metal intensity of the Hanson brothers, we’ll be back next Sunday, hopefully as fired up as Darius Leonard clearly was today, for this team’s most exciting game of the season thus far against the Ravens.