Tribune Star Correspondent
MONTGOMERY — The Indianapolis Colts will take a 7-4 record into Sunday’s road game in Detroit. Indianapolis is also the front-runner for one of the two available wild-card berths in the upcoming AFC playoffs.
That’s the good news.
The Colts, though, have struggled on the road this season, with three of the team’s four losses occurring away from the friendly confines of Lucas Oil Stadium.
While the Lions are 4-7 this season, interim coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians considers them a dangerous team with a lot of firepower on both sides of the ball.
“You just see unbelievable individual talent, especially in that defensive front, and at wide receiver and quarterback. They have a solid offensive line,” Arians previewed Monday.
“They’ve lost some very close games that I think has been the difference for them. We’ve won a couple of close ones. They’ve won a couple of close ones. Talent-wise, they are extremely talented.”
As for his own Colts squad, the veteran NFL assistant coach continues to preach patience. He doesn’t want the team to look too far into the future and, above all, don’t listen to all the talk about the playoffs. It’s way too early to entertain that kind of discussion, according to Arians.
“Just stay within the moment. Just stay within the process. It’s worked this far. Just because it’s December, the price of poker has gone up. But the process is still the game,” he said.
“Stay with it one play at a time, one day at a time and don’t get caught up in all that. The team philosophy is that we just keep winning and there’s going to be enough credit to go around for everybody.”
Moala out for the season -- Defensive tackle Fili Moala will most the remainder of the year after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury to his right knee Sunday. Moala was hurt as he got caught up in a crowd of players while running down field after safety Tom Zbikowski intercepted a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass.
"[Coming] out of the ball game [Sunday] the only serious injury was Fili Moala. He got an ACL and will be out for the year. Everybody else came out pretty clean," Arians said. "We should be able to get [tight end Coby] Fleener and [cornerback Vontae] Davis back this week."
Fleener (shoulder) and Davis (knee) have both missed the last four games. They were hurt in the Colts' Oct. 28 overtime win at Tennessee.
While the loss of Moala will hurt, the Colts have developed some additional depth along the defensive line due to other injuries.
"Obviously it’s a blow because Fili was playing extremely well for us. We’ll pick up the pieces and go on with the defensive line," Arians said. "We’ve had so many injuries there this year that we’ve built some depth. We’ll just continue on with the guys that we have at that position. Clifton Geathers and Lawrence Guy will fill in some roles there along with Ricardo Mathews.”
Rookie nose tackle Josh Chapman will continue to be a game-day decision. Chapman's surgically-repaired knee has responded well the last several weeks. But the Colts aren't going to rush the former Alabama standout into a game. Not just yet anyway.
Moala's injury won't change that mind set either.
"It's a totally a different position. We’re just going to make sure that he’s right before we put him out there," Arians said.
Freeney playing well -- Despite the lack of big sack or tackle numbers this season for outside linebacker Dwight Freeney, the Colts aren't displeased with his performance. Far from it.
"I think he’s been very productive and disruptive. The sacks just aren’t there. I think part of that is because [outside linebacker] Robert [Mathis] wasn't on the other side for a while, so people could game plan him. We moved him around a lot, but he’s being extremely disruptive," Arians voiced.
"He caused a lot of double clutches in [the Buffalo] game and we got some good interior pressure. I don’t think you judge guys totally by their numbers. We’re used to seeing those big sack numbers and sack fumbles from him. But he was playing on one leg for a long time. He is healthy but he’s being very disruptive.”
Keeping it close -- The Colts have registered a 6-1 record in "one-possession" games so far this season.
"I think we’ve been able to play at the end of halves and at the end of games extremely well on offense. But we’re that type of team. We’re going to be in a lot of close games and fortunately we’ve found a lot of ways to win them," Arians explained.
"The big thing for us is to go on the road and protect the football and play good defense and bring those special teams with us on the road and see if we can play our best football on the road.”