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Monson: The Indianapolis Colts need the old Philip Rivers back if they are to have a legitimate shot in the postseason

Nov 12, 2020; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers (17) throws against Tennessee Titans defensive end Jack Crawford (94) during the first half at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts rescued their season with a win on Thursday Night Football against the divisional rival Tennessee Titans, but they need Philip Rivers to be better if they are to be real Super Bowl contenders in 2020.

Had the Titans won this game, their chances to win the AFC South would have jumped from 62.5% heading into the game to something around 90%, given the lead they would have built in the division. The Colts winning makes it close to a coin flip with a second game against the Titans still to come, but, critically, we have seen the limitations of their quarterback, and nothing in this game suggested that will change down the stretch.

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Rivers will come out of this game with an overall PFF grade that is solid, which can also describe the PFF grade (74.3) he had heading into the game, but that grade has been built largely from just “adequate” performances. The freewheeling Rivers of old doesn’t seem to be there anymore.

The narrative on Rivers this season has been that he thrives when he is kept clean but wilts when the pressure arrives. The thing is, the data does not really back that up. After this game, Rivers will actually have the highest PFF grade of any quarterback under pressure this season. Only one of his turnover-worthy plays has come on a play under pressure that has actually counted (as opposed to being nullified by penalty), and his turnovers themselves have come when he's not been put under duress.

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