INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts are in the all-too-familiar position of being 0-2 at the start of the season. This is how each of their past three seasons have started for them. They found a way to win their third game in each of those seasons.
The Colts will try to make it four straight Week 3 victories when they play the Cleveland Browns this Sunday. Indianapolis hasn’t started 0-3 since the 2011 season, when it finished with a 2-14 record that led to the team landing the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft, where it selected quarterback Andrew Luck.
“It can’t happen, it won’t happen,” receiver T.Y. Hilton said about the possibility of starting 0-3.
The Colts needed Luck to lead them to come-from-behind fourth-quarter victories in each of their past two Week 3s. Luck (shoulder) won’t be taking snaps against the Browns. It’ll be Jacoby Brissett, who threw for 216 yards in his first start with the Colts against Arizona last weekend.
The odds of making the playoffs after starting the season two games in the hole are not very good. Since 1990, only 12 percent of teams that began 0-2 have gone on to the playoffs, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Colts were part of the 12 percent when they rebounded from a 0-2 start to reach the AFC Championship Game in 2014.
“Well, I think every [game is] a must-win game,” linebacker John Simon said. “You definitely don’t want to start the year 0-2, let alone 0-3. So it’s a big week for us, and we’re going to have to prepare hard all week long to play up to the challenge.”
This could be the third time in three weeks the Colts face an opponent without at least one of its key players. First it was Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald in Week 1, then Cardinals running back David Johnson in Week 2. And now there’s a chance Browns defensive lineman and the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, Myles Garrett, could miss the game with an ankle injury that sidelined him the first two weeks of the season.
As rough as things have been so far for the Colts without Luck, a victory over the winless Browns could put them right back into the mix in the AFC South. Jacksonville is playing undefeated Baltimore in London. Tennessee is hosting Seattle, and Houston is on the road at New England. A loss by each of their division counterparts and a Colts win would put all four teams at 1-2.
“We all understand the magnitude of it and the urgency,” coach Chuck Pagano said. “They need a win, and we need a win. We’ll go back to work on Wednesday and prepare just like we did, but just try to do it better and clean up the things we need to clean up. It’s a big week.”