Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Sports

December 9, 2013

AFC South winners seeking momentum for playoffs

INDIANAPOLIS — Coach Chuck Pagano won't give anybody a break over the next three weeks.

With his offense still struggling to get out of its early-game funk, a defense yielding far too many points and coverage units that have been anything but special, the Colts know there's too much to fix to take a break.

So they will play out the season with as many starters as possible.

"We talked today and said, 'They gave us 16 games, we're playing 16 games,'" Pagano said Monday. "Right now, we've got a lot of things to get better at. We have to go back to work and play good football, consistent football for 60 minutes."

Colts fans should welcome the philosophical change.

After spending years watching team officials rest players when nothing more could be achieved in the playoff hunt — they threw away a shot at a perfect season in 2009 — Pagano made it clear Monday this season would be different.

Indy (8-5), a 42-28 loser at Cincinnati, has the luxury of resting players after Tennessee's loss at Denver handed the Colts the AFC South title.

Barring a dramatic change, the Colts will be the No. 4 seed behind AFC West leader Denver (11-2), East leader New England (10-3) and the North-leading Bengals (9-4), who now hold the head-to-head tiebreaker.

This is not how the Colts wanted to go into the playoffs.

"You never want to backdoor your way into it, but we won (the division)," NFL sacks leader Robert Mathis said. "We're in there, punched our ticket to the playoffs. We just have to hit the switch. We have to turn it up and we have to get on the right track: offense, defense and special teams."

Finding flaws shouldn't be difficult. Fixing them might be.

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