Let me get this out of the way first:
This Colts offense is not good enough to make the playoffs.
Then again, this Colts offense won't have to.
For a third consecutive game, the Colts struggled to pass the ball effectively as Manning has seen his once formidable selection of weapons whittled down to a skeleton crew. Make no mistake, on a day when the Colts' defense played at a championship level, the Indy offense was a mess. No offense featuring Bradon and Javarris James and Gijon Robinson as primary components is going to make the playoffs. The Colts aren't running or throwing the ball well right now. The offensive line has looked terrible for three games running, and Manning has struggled mightily after the bye.
The bottom line is that Clark, Collie and Addai (not to mention White and Hart) is just too much firepower to lose all at once. There's no sugar coating the offensive debacle that was Sunday's game. On a day when the defense played well enough for the Colts to win by 30, the offense and the coaching staff simply failed to hold up their end of the bargain. The good news for the Colts is that soon, possibly this week, Indy will return Collie and Addai to the line up. While they alone won't solve everything that ails the Colts, they'll fix a lot of the problems.
Meanwhile, the Indianapolis defense continues to play inspired football in Lucas Oil Stadium. The real story of the day is the five turnovers forced (directly leading to 17 points without much contribution from the offense) and the countless clutch plays turned in by the Colts defense. After awhile you grow used to watching Freeney and Mathis make big plays with the game on the line, but every once in a while, Freeney does something to make you sit up and take notice anew. At the end of a long, exhausting game, Freeney was still hustling to tackle a tight end six yards downfield, and forced the fumble by Graham that all but sealed the win. This is why he's one of the great Colts ever and belongs on the Rushmore of great Indianapolis Colts.
The truth is that today was about more than just the usual suspects on defense. It was about Jerry Hughes forcing a critical sack. It was about Kavell Conner, Hagler, and Angerer making huge plays, forcing turnovers and playing sound football. It was about Muir and Foster being disruptive. It was about 19 carries for 30 yards for the Bengals.
And yes, it was about five turnovers.
Lucas Oil Stadium has become a safe harbor for the Colts especially on defense. In Indy, the Colts have allowed just over two TDs a game (and many of those points were in garbage time). They've forced 10 turnovers in 4 games. The Colts defense has become so dominant at home, that I can't see them losing a home game. That would get the Colts to 10 wins.
Whether they can get 1 or 2 more on the road...
Well, this offense certainly can't do that.