INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Colts are closing in on a division title and a third consecutive playoff appearance.
Indianapolis can win its ninth AFC South title on Sunday with a victory over Cleveland and a loss by Houston. The Browns will try to spoil the Colts’ plans as they try to stay in the hunt for an AFC wild card spot. The Texans face a Jacksonville Jaguars team that is just 2-10.
If Indianapolis can’t wrap up two of their season goals in Cleveland, they’ll have an opportunity to do so without help from any other opponent next Sunday when they host the Texans. Houston has never won at Indianapolis and the Colts have won 11 straight against division opponents.
Reggie Wayne has been a part of every AFC South title Indianapolis has brought home. The 14-year veteran is no stranger to the sort of musical chairs the month of December often becomes for prospective playoff teams.
“We’ve got goals and the first goal is to take care of the AFC South,” Wayne said. “We know we control our own destiny, so we just want to make sure we do everything we possibly can to make that as easy as possible and the only way to do that is to go out there and win. Our focus is on the Cleveland Browns.”
While the Colts may not be accustomed to the weather in Cleveland late in the year, they are 8-2 in in December since 2012.
“We want to keep the momentum going,” coach Chuck Pagano said. “Somebody’s going to get hot this time of year and hopefully it’s the Colts. We’re just going to try to continue to play our best football in the month of December and play our best game to date Sunday at one o’clock against the Browns.”
Indianapolis will bring a handful of former Browns with them to Cleveland, including running back Trent Richardson and Josh Cribbs, who has never been to the playoffs.
Cribbs spent nine seasons in Cleveland. He wouldn’t deny the significance and satisfaction it would bring to clinch his first ever playoff berth against his former team.
“I told y’all when I came here it smelled like playoffs,” Cribbs said. “We don’t need to worry about clinching because we control our own fate. We’re two games ahead, let’s just keep winning. For me, (clinching a playoff berth in Cleveland) will be significant because I’ve never been (to the playoffs). But that bridge will have to be crossed in Cleveland.”
As if punching his first playoff ticket of his career would be sweet enough for the 11-year veteran, if Cribbs returns a kick Sunday, he has a few plans of his own to validate the win.
“If I score, I’ll have to read (the fans) like, `Can I come?”‘ he said. “I’d take a delay a game to jump in the dog pound if I’m allowed.”