Huge Win Over Seattle Showcases Colts As Legitimate Title Contenders

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Huge Win Over Seattle Showcases Colts As Legitimate Title Contenders
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It's becoming harder and harder to believe that just two seasons ago the Indianapolis Colts were a 2-14 football team.

After rebounding quickly from that debacle to go 11-5 last year, the Colts appear set to take the next step in 2013 and make a deep run in the playoffs.

Not only are the Colts now all alone in first place in the AFC South after their Week 5 win, but after beating both the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks in the last three weeks, the Colts have sent a message to the rest of the NFL.

The Indianapolis Colts are a legitimate Super Bowl contender in the AFC.

What's even more impressive than the Colts' 4-1 record, and the wins over the NFC West powers, is the manner with which the Colts won those games.

Everyone knows about quarterback Andrew Luck and wide receiver Reggie Wayne. Running back Trent Richardson was a very hot topic after the Colts dealt their 2014 first-round pick to the Cleveland Browns to acquire his services last month.

However, as talented as those players are, they aren't the reason for Indy's recent winning streak according to ESPN's Trey Wingo:

Wingo has a point, even if the stats against the Seahawks don't bear it out at first glance.

Yes, Russell Wilson threw for over 200 yards and ran for over 100. Marshawn Lynch topped 100 yards on the ground as well.

However, the Colts also limited Wilson to a completion percentage of under 50 percent and forced a pair of turnovers, including a game-sealing fourth-quarter interception.

The stars on offense may hog all the headlines, but it's the defense that's winning football games.

2013 Indianapolis Colts Defense
Category Stat NFL Rank
Total Defense/Game 330.4 11th
Passing Yards/Game 201.4 6th
Sacks 15 6th
Turnover Differential +6 3rd
Points Allowed/Game 15.8 5th

Through Week 5

The poster child for this defensive renaissance has to be outside linebacker Robert Mathis.

After starring for years at defensive end for the Colts, Mathis' stats dipped last year in his first season as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Many questioned whether, at 32, Mathis' best football was behind him.

Yeah, about that.

Robert Mathis
Year Tackles Sacks INT FF
2012 33 8.0 1 1
2013* 24 9.5 0 2

*Through Week 5

Mathis notched two more sacks in Sunday's win over Seattle, giving him 9.5 on the season. Not only does that lead the NFL, but as Bleacher Report's Kyle Rodriguez points out, that puts the 11th-year veteran on a record-setting pace:

Mind you, this isn't to say that everything is totally hunky-dory defensively for the Colts, who rank 30th in the NFL against the run.

However, a defense that many considered a weakness for the Colts has suddenly become a strength, and they haven't even had star safety LaRon Landry on the field in recent weeks.

We knew that the Colts had plenty of talent on offense, and the team only added to it by acquiring Richardson.

What we didn't know is that the Colts would field an aggressive defense that's proven to be quite adept at getting after quarterbacks and forcing turnovers.

If that keeps up, fans of the Colts may find themselves in a surreal position come January:

Rooting for Mathis to chase down Peyton Manning, with a trip to New York and the Super Bowl on the line.

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