The Indianapolis Colts are 3-4, but they're far from out of the playoff race after just seven weeks.
They could do themselves a lot of good with a win over the AFC South rival Titans this weekend. Tennessee sits atop the division with a 5-2 mark and is cruising after consecutive wins over each of the participants in last year's AFC Championship Game: Buffalo and Kansas City. The Titans appear to be hitting their stride at an ideal time, making their game with the Colts that much more important -- for Indianapolis especially.
Realistically, Indianapolis could have a better record than 3-4. The Colts appeared to be in control of a Monday night showdown with the Ravens before watching their lead melt away at M&T Bank Stadium, losing in overtime. Indianapolis also lost a close game against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 2, and were within striking distance of the Titans in their first meeting (back in Week 3) before ultimately falling short of a comeback win on the road.
Now at home, the Colts have a chance to earn some revenge and gain important ground in the AFC South, and among the tightly packed AFC standings as a whole. They'll have to find a way to limit NFL rushing leader Derrick Henry, who has been an unstoppable force in each of Tennessee's last three wins. The Titans' chances of victory rest heavily on the performance of Henry, and he's certainly answered the call this season, including in the Titans' first meeting with the Colts, in which Henry rushed for 113 yards on 28 carries and caught three passes for 31 yards.
Indianapolis managed to keep Henry out of the end zone in that game (and intercept Ryan Tannehill twice), but still failed to defeat Tennessee. The Colts will have to be even better against Henry, who remains indefatigable despite a massive workload, if they want to follow through on Leonard's demand.
"I don't ever see him get tired, and that says a lot about what he does in the offseason," Leonard said of Henry, via the Indianapolis Star's Joel A. Erickson.
Indianapolis will have to bring as much energy as possible to Sunday's matchup to take down the division leader. Their fate could rest on the outcome.