Colts struggle in AFC South, but Henry injury gives hope

New York Jets running back Michael Carter dives for yards as Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Darius Phillips tackles him during the second half at MetLife Stadium on October 31, 2021.Vincent Carchietta/US TODAY Sports via Reuters

All is not lost for the Indianapolis Colts.

Sure, they are three games behind Tennessee in the AFC South. And yes, the Titans beat Indy this season to hold a massive tiebreaker.

Keep this in mind, though: Derrick Henry, the Titans’ outstanding running back and the best offensive player in the division, may be sidelined for the remainder of the season.

So while hopes aren’t really eternal in Indianapolis (3-5), the team got something of an opening to get back into the race.

The Colts will begin that climb as they open week 9 when they host the New York Jets on Thursday night.

“I understand it’s a very big gap to come back from and win the division, the odds are very high against us,” said Colts coach Frank Reich. “I’m just not wired to think that way. The way I’m wired, the way our team is wired is we have a game on Thursday night. We have to come back.”

As for the Jets (2-5), the only race they think they are in is for the best overall design pick in April. Even that’s an opportunity as three teams have one win and Detroit none.

Give the Jets, No. 27 in the AP Pro32 and getting 10½ points from No. 20 Indianapolis according to FanDuel SportsBook, some credit. They knocked out the Titans and last week the Bengals, who are both division leaders.

The spread seems huge, but so does the talent gap between these two rosters. The short week can make a difference, but…

FILL, 30-16

KNOCKOUT POOL: The bottom line is that when Pro Picks go for the Bengals, they turn back into the Bungles and lose to the Jets. We keep trying and going with DALLAS with or without Dak Prescott.

No. 20 Jacksonville (plus 14½) at No. 6 Buffalo

It’s time and a perfect opportunity for Buffalo to reaffirm its superiority.

BEST GUESS: BILLS, 33-10

No. 16 Cleveland (plus 2½) at No. 11 Cincinnati

A big rival must keep the Bengals from losing focus. Or not.

DISTURBED SPECIAL: BROWN, 23-21

No. 25 Atlanta (plus 6) at No. 8 New Orleans

A big rival must keep the Saints from losing focus after a big win.

SAINTS, 20-16

No. 2 Green Bay (plus 1½) at No. 14 Kansas City

This would have been the Upset Special if Aaron Rodgers was playing. Jordan Love?

KC, 22-13

No. 21 (tie) Denver (plus 9) at No. 4 Dallas

This would have been the best bet if we were sure Dak Prescott would play. So unsure…

COWBOYS, 26-13

No. 7 Tennessee (plus 7½) at No. 1 Los Angeles Rams

Losing Henry affects everything Tennessee does. The Rams don’t need such help.

WINDOWS, 31-20

No. 15 New England (minus 4) at No. 18 Carolina

The Patriots finally beat a good team last week. Carolina is not a good team.

PATRIOTS, 19-13

No. 13 Los Angeles Chargers (minus 1½) at No. 23 Philadelphia

After looking like amateurs last week, can the Chargers look like pros in Philadelphia?

CHARGERS, 26-22

No. 17 Minnesota (plus 5½) at No. 10 Baltimore

Another tight game – and a close loss – for the Vikings.

RAVEN, 28-27

No. 9 Las Vegas (minus 3) at No. 26 New York Giants

The Meadowlands has not been kind to the Raiders. But the Giants tend to beat themselves.

RAIDER, 26-24

No. 24 Chicago (plus 6) at No. 12 Pittsburgh, Monday Night

While things look more positive in the Steel City, they are very bleak in the Windy City.

STEEL, 22-10

No. 3 Arizona (minus 1) at No. 19 San Francisco

If Arizona is truly a title contender, it will return here.

CARDINALS, 26-21

No. 31 Houston (plus 6½) at No. 29 Miami

The only drama here could have involved a trade with Deshaun Watson.

DOLPHINS, 17-9

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RECORDING 2021

Last week: Straight up: 8-7. Against spread: 7-8.

Season: Straight up: 77-45. Against spread: 65-53-2.

Best guess: Straight ahead: 5-3. Against spread: 6-2.

Angry Special: Straight ahead: 7-0. Against spread: 7-0.

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