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Colts floundering in AFC South, but Henry injury gives hope

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Not all is lost for the Indianapolis Colts.

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

Consider this, however: Derrick Henry, the Titans’ outstanding running back and the best offensive player in the division, is sidelined possibly for the remainder of the season.

So while hope doesn’t exactly spring eternal in Indianapolis (3-5), the team was handed something of an opening to get back in the race.

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

“I understand it’s a really big hole to come back from and win the division, the odds are really stacked against us,” Colts coach Frank Rich says. “I’m just not wired to think like that. The way I’m wired, the way our team is wired is we’ve got a game on Thursday night. We have to come back.”

As for the Jets (2-5), the only race they figure to be in is for the top overall draft choice next April. Even that is a long shot considering three teams have one win and Detroit has none.

Give the Jets, No. 27 in the AP Pro32 and getting 10 1-2 points from No. 20 Indianapolis according to FanDuel SportsBook, some due credit. They’ve knocked off the Titans and last week Bengals, both of which are division leaders.

The spread seems huge, but so is the chasm in talent between these two rosters. The short week could be a difference-maker, but …

COLTS, 30-16

KNOCKOUT POOL: It figures that when Pro Picks goes for the Bengals, they turn into the Bungles again and lose to the Jets. We’ll keep trying and go with DALLAS with or without Dak Prescott.

No. 20 Jacksonville (plus 14 1-2) at No. 6 Buffalo

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

BEST BET: BILLS, 33-10

No. 16 Cleveland (plus 2 1-2) at No. 11 Cincinnati

A big-time rival should keep the Bengals from losing focus. Or not.

UPSET SPECIAL: BROWNS, 23-21

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

A big-time rival should keep the Saints from losing focus after a big win.

SAINTS, 20-16

No. 2 Green Bay (plus 1 1-2) at No. 14 Kansas City

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

CHIEFS, 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. Unsure so …

COWBOYS, 26-13

No. 7 Tennessee (plus 7 1-2) at No. 1 Los Angeles Rams

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

RAMS, 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 1 1-2) at No. 23 Philadelphia

After looking like amateurs last week, can the Chargers look like pros at Philly?

CHARGERS, 26-22

No. 17 Minnesota (plus 5 1-2) at No. 10 Baltimore

Another tight game — and close loss — for the Vikings.

RAVENS, 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.

RAIDERS, 26-24

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

While matters have a more positive appearance in the Steel City, they are very bleak in the Windy City.

STEELERS, 22-10

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

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

CARDINALS, 26-21

No. 31 Houston (plus 6 1-2) at No. 29 Miami

The only drama here could have concerned a Deshaun Watson trade.

DOLPHINS, 17-9

___

2021 RECORD

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

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

Best Bet: Straight up: 5-3. Against spread: 6-2.

Upset Special: Straight up: 7-0. Against spread: 7-0.

___

More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

By BARRY WILNER
AP Pro Football Writer

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