After missing a chance to secure their return to the playoffs, the Indianapolis Colts have a prime opportunity to accomplish that feat this week.
The Colts look to clinch a postseason berth when they visit the lowly Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
Indianapolis (9-5) needs a win or a tie against Kansas City or a Pittsburgh loss or tie against Cincinnati to make the playoffs for the 10th time in 11 seasons. Indianapolis has won seven of nine as it continues its remarkable turnaround from last season's 2-14 effort.
The Colts could have made the playoffs by beating Houston last week but suffered a mistake-filled 29-17 loss.
Mewelde Moore fumbled at 1-yard line in the second quarter and the Colts had a touchdown catch by Reggie Wayne called back due to a holding penalty. The Texans also returned a blocked punt for a TD.
"We came here to win, not put up a respectable showing," quarterback Andrew Luck said. "We'll move on to next week and hopefully get better."
If the Colts can't get a better result and don't get help from the Bengals, they might have to find a way to beat the Texans - the AFC South champions - in the season finale. Indianapolis can avoid that scenario by becoming the latest team to overwhelm the Chiefs (2-12).
Kansas City has lost its last two games by a combined 45-7. The Chiefs gained a season-low 119 yards and recorded seven first downs - two on penalties - in a 15-0 defeat at Oakland last week.
They were playing their first game without leading receiver Dwayne Bowe, out for the season due to ailing ribs.
"We continue to struggle to develop any consistency," coach Romeo Crennel said. "We're not very good on offense. This past game we couldn't run, we couldn't throw it, and it's hard to be in a game when that happens."
Kansas City, in danger of finishing last in scoring for the first time in team history, has recorded fewer than 10 points in four of its last five contests.
The Chiefs broke a three-game losing streak in this series with a 28-24 victory last Oct. 9, but Indianapolis didn't have Luck yet. The first-year QB is 74 passing yards shy of breaking Cam Newton's rookie record of 4,051.
Luck, though, has completed 46.1 percent of his passes in three games this month and been intercepted nine times in his last five contests. However, he's also thrown 10 TDs in that span, two coming last week.
''I think guys understand what's at stake,'' Luck said. ''There's a little more of a sense of urgency in terms of what to expect, but it is kind of like the playoffs.''
Luck was sacked a season-high five times against Houston and could again be playing behind an injury-plagued offensive line. The Colts won't have starting center Samson Satele available, and the statuses of right tackle Winston Justice and Satele's backup A.Q. Shipley are unknown.
If Shipley is out, right guard Mike McGlynn will likely move over one spot as the Colts try to find a way to protect Luck, who has been sacked 37 times - fourth most in the NFL. Kansas City is among the worst pass rushing teams in the league with 24 sacks, though it's recorded nine of those in the last five weeks.
Kansas City's Jamaal Charles finished with 10 yards on nine carries last week, ending his season-high streak of three straight games with at least 100.
The Colts have won 10 of the last 12 matchups with the Chiefs, including playoffs.