Welcome to week four in the NFL. The Colts have a two game lead over the AFC South. Is it too early to start thinking about earning a division title and possibly a bye? Not in my book. Despite the Colts history of squandering them, I hold byes in very high regard. Remember: Even if the Colts had beaten San Diego last January they still would have had to win two more road games to get out of the AFC. It's the difference between playing in Indianapolis instead of Baltimore, Pittsburgh, or New England in January.
I have a weekly habit of staring at the standings and the schedule to figure out who to root for that week. I'll root for anyone if it helps the Colts. That includes the Jacksonville Jaguars (see last week). Here's how I see week four. Keep in mind that this involves predicting how you see the rest of the season playing out for the teams involved.
1. Jets at Saints. I've been rooting for the Jets early and often this season (Houston, New England, Tennessee). I really want them to win the AFC East because of personal animosity towards the Pats, but they need to lose this week. The Jets are the kind of team that could randomly win 13 games, much like Tennessee did last year. I'm not saying they will, but they appear to be in competition for a bye at this point in the season. They need to lose.
2. Titans at Jaguars. The Titans at 0-4 would be incredible. Needless to say I don't fear the Jags, and their best case scenario is an 7-9 season. I still think the Titans will win some games this year. The bigger the hole they dig, the more likely they call it quits at some point (like when the Colts beat them next week).
3. Ravens at New England. This is probably the toughest game of the week to choose. It mostly comes down to the records. If the Ravens start 4-0 they will be firmly in bye-hunting mode. I won't be sorry at either outcome, but I think you have to root for the Pats. As if that's possible.
4. San Diego at Pittsburgh. This one is fairly easy. Pittsburgh is going to have a hard road towards a bye because of their division and their style of play. San Diego, on the other hand, is a potential threat. They play in a horrible division where they are handed five or six wins. This advantage makes 12-13 wins very reachable. I'm firmly in the Steelers camp here.
Overall, I think the Colts are in great shape to win 12 games and earn a first round bye. The AFC doesn't scare me this year. There are some good clubs, but no one who threatens to run out and win 14 games. Except maybe the Colts.