Over the past seven years must-win regular-season games have been rare for the Indianapolis Colts.

If the Colts can't contain Arian Foster on Monday, their playoff chances will start to slip away.

Monday is about as close to one as you can get.

If the Colts lose to the Houston Texans they’ll be 4-3 overall, but more importantly 0-3 in the AFC South.

Not winning the division isn’t the end of the world, but a wildcard berth in the AFC this season might require an 11-5 record … at least.

The AFC is clearly the NFL’s stronger conference. The Jets (5-1), Patriots (5-1), Steelers (5-1), Ravens (5-2), and Titans (5-2) are all going strong.

Keep in mind, tiebreakers for wildcard spots often divert to conference record, and a loss to the Texans will put the Colts at 1-3 in the AFC.

Perhaps saying it’s a must-win game is being overdramatic. In 2008 the Colts fell to 3-4 after a 31-21 Monday night loss to the Titans.

At that point everyone, including myself, left them for dead. They proceeded to rip off nine straight wins to finish the season 12-4 and clinch a wildcard spot.

Most would agree that kind of run is unlikely to happen again – there are just too many injuries.

The Colts have never lost Dallas Clark for more than a few games and he’s done for

The Colts have to deal with life without Dallas Clark, something they haven't done for an extended period of time since his arrival.

the season. Timetables for the return of Austin Collie and Joseph Addai are unknown. The strong safety situation is dire and nobody has talked about the knee surgery defensive tackle Antonio Johnson underwent last week. When Johnson will return is also uncertain.

In addition, the schedule is no walk in the park. Trips to Philadelphia, New England, and Tennessee still loom.

If the Colts can contain Arian Foster Monday, they’ll have a good chance to win. Foster brutalized the Colts’ defense for 190 second-half rushing yards in the season opener.

Despite that, the Colts were in the game late. If not for a fumble by Collie at Houston’s 6-yard line in the fourth quarter – when the Colts were down 20-10 – who knows what could have happened.

Even without several key weapons, the Colts should have no problem moving the ball against the league’s worst defense Monday. They didn’t in their Week 1 loss to the Texans either though, racking up 463 yards.

If Peyton Manning and whoever his supporting cast is can capitalize in the redzone this time around, the Colts will emerge victorious.

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