INDIANAPOLIS — Can anyone explain how the Indianapolis Colts have managed to string together a 9-4 record this season?
The Colts have rebounded from a 2-14 record last year, which forced a massive roster re-boot along with major changes on the coaching staff and in the front office.
Indianapolis goes into this week's AFC South game at Houston with a chance to clinch an AFC wild-card playoff berth.
With a win over the Texans -- or losses by either Pittsburgh or Cincinnati -- the Colts will find themselves back in the playoffs after a one-year absence.
Who would have believed it at the beginning of the season? Most observers had already penciled in
Indianapolis for another sub .500 season.
But the Colts have made a quick recovery with hopes of surprising even more people along the way.
"It all started with the foundation that [coach] Chuck [Pagano] put in. Trust, loyalty and respect. And then the bonding of the football team was [Pagano's] illness. The guys rallied to make sure that they extended this season until he gets back. And then the snowball effect," interim coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said Monday.
"But when teams are really close and they have a purpose, you'll see those type of locker rooms. Guys are always hanging together. They'll be [at the Colts headquarters] on days when they don't have to. And that's the great thing. That word chemistry? I think it's overused some times. But this team obviously has a caring for each other."
Pagano is slated to return to the sidelines in time for Indianapolis' Dec. 30 regular-season home finale with Houston. Depending on how his recovery from leukemia treatments continues to progress, he might be back sooner.
The coach stopped by his office Monday morning, just as he has done for most of the season during his absence from the sidelines.