Some of Indianapolis' die-hard fans are urging the team's brain trust to take a different tack, benching starters and losing Sunday's season finale at Jacksonville so it can grab the top pick.
"It's better not to respond to that at all," Mathis said when asked about the fans' plea. "We play to win."
The stakes are high.
Since the franchise moved to Indianapolis in 1984, only the 1991 Colts (1-15) produced fewer than three wins.
The Colts (2-13) have never finished with a losing record in AFC South play, and the last time anybody beat them twice in the same season was 2007 when the San Diego Chargers won at home in the regular season and in Indianapolis in the second round of the playoffs.
A victory over the Jaguars (4-11) would keep all of those streaks intact and allow the Colts to take a three-game winning string into next season, something they haven't done since the 2006 Super Bowl-winning run.
The message coming from the top is simple: Keep on winning.
"We're not going after anything but a win n Jacksonville, look at the last half century of SupBowl winners n c how many had 1st pick," Jim Irsay wrote on Twitter late Tuesday night.
It's not the first time the Colts have faced such a predicament. After going 0-10 in 1997, Indy won three of its next five, then needed a loss at Minnesota in the season finale to secure the No. 1 pick. It worked out with the selection of Peyton Manning, and the die-hards believe it would all work the same way again this year.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press