Colts Might Be Right on Perfection, but Shouldn’t Be Considered SB Favorites
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I’ll start by throwing out my thoughts on the 2009 Colts: I don’t really understand their decision, never really bought their public comments about the records, and find the seventy-two Dolphins to be quite insufferable. I am confident that I am in no way biased on this issue, outside of the above statements.
Maybe 16-0 doesn’t matter anymore. Maybe 19-0 really is the only mark of perfection. Maybe if the Colts go on and win the Super Bowl, their season will be every bit as special as a 19-0 season. After all, they were the front runners all season long, winning in the post-season was always made out to be the primary concern, and no one can ever take that historic win over New England away.
I have nothing to add that hasn’t been said already. Except for this: now that the Colts are 14-1, it’s going to be very hard to consider them the favorites in the playoffs.
That’s it. They haven’t lost anything except pride. But due to fear, or due to whatever the heck caused Jim Caldwell to pull his banged up starters in the third quarter, when the San Diego Chargers come to town, who is taking the Colts? On what history? Heck, the way Philip Rivers has been playing, the Colts (who have the best quarterback in the history of the game in his prime) don’t even have a quarterback advantage.
Of course, the Colts have secured homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. Unfortunately for them, the NFL playoffs are a single elimination tournament. The road to Miami only goes through Indianapolis until someone goes in and beats them.
I don’t believe in momentum, at least not in the practical sense, but you have to remember that the Colts are already a very injured team, a rag tag group of superstars and players on rookie contracts who fit into their financials as well as their defensive scheme. There wasn’t all that long of a line to draft Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie in the last two years, and despite them being two of the better recievers in the draft, only going to a team with Peyton Manning at the trigger can truly make a career. This is who the Colts are. They need their stars just to not make a mockery in the playoffs. They need them healthy.
And again, I don’t believe in momentum. But then again, neither does Joe Posnanski, really, and his blog post on the Colts, perfection, and NFL tiebreakers 1) threatens to put this blog out of business, and 2) was so spot on that, even though you’d expect nothing less, was still that impressive.
And then there’s another point, one best described in Bull Durham: “I love winning, man. You know what I’m saying? It’s, like, better than losing?” Every pro football player knows how much better a week is after a win than after a loss. Look, I don’t know if momentum can carry a team in the playoffs. But it sure seems to me that a team that decided to go for the perfect season would be a scarier team to face in the playoffs than a team that lost at home to the Jets (and they could lose again this week — what’s the point in starting Peyton Manning in bleeping BUFFALO? Why even have him make the trip?). It seems that an undefeated team would be much scarier to play than a team that decided it was better to lose with a 14-0 record than put its wittle precious pwayers in harm’s way.
If the Colts win the Super Bowl, people will always wonder if they could have gone undefeated and made their case for greatest team ever. If the Colts don’t win the Super Bowl, Jim Caldwell’s decision will live in infamy in Indianapolis for a long time. I understand the decision, but I don’t agree with it.
This is not only perfectly worded, but about as edgy as I’ve ever seen Joe get. And it’s not even directed at a particular unsuccessful baseball franchise. And as good as this is, Ross Tucker does even better in 140 characters:
If history, records, and stats don’t mean anything to the Colts why start Peyton on Sunday in order to keep his starting streak going?
Yep. Pretty much. The Colts aren’t going to throw away Peyton Manning’s consecutive starts streak in Buffalo. He’ll get one drive to do his thing out there with the starters, it’s unlikely that anyone will get hurt (just like against NY last week!). It’s possible, and there’s a downside risk to every action, but you can fully expect Peyton, Reggie, Jeff Saturday, and Dallas Clark (but not Gijon Robinson) to be ready for action when the Divisional round roles around in the middle of January.
I firmly believe that the Colts fully intended on winning that game; after all, the Jets were still trying to win a game with Mark Sanchez. Ultimately, he’ll be the reason they lose this week and miss the postseason. Curtis Painter really didn’t need to do anything in the last two quarters to win it, just don’t turn the ball over. The Colts had to think he was well prepared during the week to get in there and win the game.
But this overestimation of the gap between themselves and the rest of the AFC (i.e. the Jets) is exactly why this Colts team will not win the super bowl. Or even a single playoff game. The assumption that seemed smart at the time is, “spot our backups a five point lead, and we trust them to go win a football game.” Curtis Painter will not be on the field in January, but a lot of the other players that gave up that lead and had a sorry performance without Peyton Manning there to lead them will be major players in January.
The point is that this is not really a great team. It’s not a perfect team. It’s just a team on a one game losing streak, like the Baltimore Ravens, like the Miami Dolphins, like the Jacksonville Jags who took them to the wire ten days before. As Posnanski first said, it’s now an imperfect team that is reporting injuries, has no mystique, and offers neither the highly powered scoring offense of the Chargers or Saints, nor the stingy defense of the Ravens or Steelers. This Colts team, more than those of the past, has become a one man show.
If any one player can lead his team to the super bowl, that man is Peyton Manning. But in the wake of this loss, Manning has no allies. Just his own talent, his receiving corps that he has trained, and his own superior preparation.
Do I think Peyton Manning is one of the all-time greats? Of course. Do I like him to win in the playoffs against the best teams in the AFC by himself. No, no I do not. I offically think the Colts will go one-and-done in the playoffs.