SCHULTZ: And a Happy New Year! After being treated to a pair of epic College Football National Semifinal classics on Saturday night, masochists in Indianapolis got to ring in 2023 with a so-called “professional” performance from the Colts in a 480-10 (who cares what the actual score was?) loss to the now playoff-bound New York Giants. Indianapolis, technically still an NFL franchise at last check, once again wasn’t competitive (drink!), couldn’t score points (drink!), and showed more coaching deficiencies (drink!) in a season full of all three of those things. Maybe that extra alcohol yesterday, and the thoughts of the Colts improving their lot for CJ Stroud, Bryce Young, or Will Levis in April’s draft, helped you nurse that NYE hangover, but for those who are still tuning in expecting competent/entertaining football, you’ve got at least an eight-month wait ahead of you.MILLER: [Jeff Saturday gathers the team in the locker room before kickoff against Terhune, aka the Giants]There’s a tradition in the NFL to not talk about the next step until you’ve climbed the one in front of you. I’m sure getting this season over with and going to, like, St. Kitts or wherever is beyond your wildest dreams, so let’s just keep it right there.Forget about your pride, your professionalism, your athleticism, and remember what got you here! Focus on the instability and fear we’ve instilled in you time and time again!And most important, don’t get caught up thinking about winning this game. If you put ZERO effort and concentration into playing to your potential, to being spineless turds, I don’t care what my book says, at the end of the game, on the scoreboard we’re gonna be LOSERS!! OKAY???!?!???[Carlie Irsay-Gordon, Nick Foles, and the Colts VP of marketing start a slow, confident clap.]ALRIGHT!!!![All the players and coaches cautiously join in.]LET’S GO!! LET’S GO!! LET ME HEAR IT!![raucous, completely off-rhythm clapping]LET’S GOOOO!![The team tries to run out of the locker room all at once, creating a catastrophic stampede effect that injures 19, kills one.]SCHULTZ: That’s what’s so inescapably depressing about this whole thing … The Colts are trying to win! Jeff Saturday didn’t leave a comfy, stress-free television gig to intentionally get filleted in front of a primetime audience every week. Jim Irsay wouldn’t have arrogantly condescended to media and skeptics about hiring Saturday if he thought the Colts, a sputtering Toyota Tercel at midseason, would implode like a goddamn Ford Pinto. People keep saying the Colts are “broken”? Nah. Broken implies there are pieces to put back together. If this team was dead when Frank Reich got kicked to the curb, then Saturday’s 1-6 tenure has cremated the remains, and you can’t glue ash back together. MILLER
: Captain Jim disagrees, Derek. He’s been gluing these ashes back together for many years now, with toxic, not-mixed results, in order to resell them on the street in four-game ticket packages. That smoldering, gooey mess we saw in the Meadowlands—the Devil’s Eight Ball, we’ll call it—is the end result. The final product. It’s a flawed, dangerous product laced with formaldehyde and Parks Frazier, but there seems to be a sizable market for it … At least for now there is. That’s because we are JUNKIES, Derek, addicted to that sweet, sweet absurdity rush. What else is there with this franchise?
SCHULTZ: For as bad as things are, there is something strangely absurd/hilarious about the Colts and Texans facing off in a matchup between the two worst teams in the league, at least at this present moment. There will be human beings who voluntarily agree to flush real money and time to attend that game. There will be cheering and confetti cannons and the mascot blowing streamers out of its nostrils. One of the teams, presumably, will actually “win” the game* (*they tied in the opener, which feels like 700 years ago). The Colts have played meaningless games over the years, but Sunday’s finale feels like the most meaningless game in meaningless-game history.
MILLER: Oh, I can’t wait!! The absurdity of these two derelict franchises squaring off in the deep vacuum of space—at 1 p.m. on CBS—will take us to new highs!! The game itself will be whatever the opposite of UNSTOPPABLE FORCE MEETS AN IMMOVABLE OBJECT is. Like, PUDDLE OF MERCURY MEETS TOM SNYDER’S GHOST or something similarly nonsensical. All we know is that it’ll be some impossibly bad football, and for the 2022 Colts, that’s the most we can hope for.
SCHULTZ: They’ll probably win, too, and pretend like it’s some sort of a tangible accomplishment (“our guys never quit!” and “offseason momentum!” Yadda, yadda.) instead of the NFL equivalent of screaming underwater. Regardless of the score, Sunday will be a loss for everyone involved, because choosing to exhaust any more time and energy on the 2022 Colts makes us all losers.
(Editor’s note: Please click on the recap link next week. Derek Schultz and Nate Miller don’t actually think you’re a loser.)