Are the Indianapolis Colts contenders or pretenders?
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Are the Indianapolis Colts contenders or pretenders?

The Indianapolis Colts routed the Jacksonville Jaguars by a score of 33-13 in a pivotal AFC South showdown on Sunday to improve to 6-4 on the season, but that’s not all.

The Houston Texans also lost to the Baltimore Ravens, allowing the Colts to move into a tie with the Texans for first place in the division.

Indianapolis will take on Houston on Thursday in a matchup that could ultimately decide who wins the AFC South, and if the Colts emerge with a victory, they will not only move a game ahead of the Texans, but they will guarantee the tiebreaker, as they will have completed the season sweep of Houston.

Of course, that will be easier said than done.

Even though Indy defeated the Jaguars this past weekend, it is still banged up, as wide receivers T.Y. Hilton, Devin Funchess and Parris Campbell remained out. Campbell is out until December, and the statuses of Hilton and Funchess remain up in the air heading into Week 12.

Not only that, but the Colts lost running back Marlon Mack to a a fractured hand on Sunday, and while we don’t exactly know his timetable for the remainder of the year, it’s pretty much a given that he won’t be playing against the Texans.

Let’s be real here: for Indianapolis to be a legitimate contender in an AFC that includes the New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens, it needs to be healthy, and that is becoming more and more of a problem as the season progresses.

Remember: Jacoby Brissett was also sidelined last week with an MCL injury, and the Colts have been dealing with injuries on the defensive side of the ball throughout the year.

It’s been that type of season for Indianapolis, which was blindsided two weeks before the 2019 campaign when Andrew Luck announced his sudden retirement.

And yet, somehow, the Colts have an opportunity to put a stranglehold on the division this Thursday.

But even if Indianapolis gets healthy, is it for real? Can the Colts compete with the Patriots, Chiefs and Ravens?

The answer is yes, to an extent.

Indy certainly has enough talent when healthy. Brissett has developed into a fine quarterback, Mack is a very good (if a bit one-dimensional) halfback, and Hilton and Funchess make for a dynamic duo that we haven’t really gotten to see yet, as Funchess has been sidelined since Week 2.

The Colts also have a pair of really solid tight ends in Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle, and Indianapolis’ offensive line is no joke.

Defensively, Indianapolis isn’t elite like the Patriots or the San Francisco 49ers, but it’s still solid, and if the offense can just get healthy, the defense is certainly good enough to keep the Colts in games.

But on the flip side, Brissett has no playoff experience, and Indy hasn’t really fully been together as a team all year due to a litany of injuries up and down the roster.

Who is to say that the Colts will be able to put it all together even if they get healthy?

For Indianapolis, talent isn’t the issue. Experience and continuity is, and it remains to be seen if it can develop the latter in the closing weeks.