For the last couple of weeks, Colts’ fans have read articles, and listened to the talking heads on T.V. (sadly including former Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy) say such and such a team was going to be the most dangerous team in the playoffs.
For the most part, that team has been the San Diego Chargers.
Compelling arguments abound, with greater alacrity then Washington’s deficit spending, why the Colts should be afraid of the Chargers, how the Chargers are the last team that the Colts want to see in the playoffs, etc.
But the facts belie the rhetoric.
So let’s lay waste to all this hot air, by looking at who the Chargers have played in this winning streak of theirs, that the Vic Caruccis of the world seem to think is the most astounding thing to happen since the first time he tasted Cheese Whiz.
Over the last nine games, the Chargers have played five teams with winning records. Of those teams with a winning record, they dominated only one of them: the Denver Broncos.
This is in no way a knock against the Chargers. They are one of the premier teams in the NFL, talented on both sides of the ball, and a win is a win. Nor would it be a shocker if they went to the Super Bowl this year; once the playoffs start, anything can happen.
No, the point of bringing up whom they have played, and the lack of dominance in their wins, is to counter the absurdity that the Chargers are to be feared because they are some uber- juggernaut of a team that beats their opponents into the ground until the players on the other team run off the field crying, “No coach I’m not going back out there. I’m scared!”
What is even more comical about this whole storyline about the Chargers, and how they are to be “feared”, is that the first thing cited is that they are on a nine game winning streak.
But there is no talk of the Colts in this whole conversation, or their 14-game winning streak, all while having to overcome tremendous adversity.
Sure the Chargers have injuries at some key positions, but if you include the tumultous offseason the Colts had, what the Chargers have had to battle through can't compare to what the Colts have gone through, and overcome this season.
There seems to be this weird disconnect this year between what the Colts have accomplished and how the media perceives them.
There doesn’t seem to be the profound recognition of the phenomenon of going 14-0, with what little the Colts have had to play with this year.
It’s rather perplexing and the only analysis of why this is occurring is that everyone has become spoiled by the Colts being so good for so long, that this season is being taken for granted.
In a way, it’s understandable. The Colts haven’t had a down year since 2001, which is the only year since 1999 that they haven’t made the playoffs.
Since 2002, the fewest games they’ve won in the regular season is ten. As a franchise, in the era of free agency, the extraordinary Colts have become the ordinary for too many people.
Yet the reality is the 2009 Indianapolis Colts have a new coach and all the change that comes along with that, have been decimated with injuries that have taken some of their star players at key positions off the field for the entire season. They have been replaced with guys that are either rookies or haven’t played much in their time in the NFL.
On top of that they have had a very tough schedule in terms of the teams they have had to play (only three teams have records under .500), and the fact that they had five road games in a row after week one.
Yet here the Colts are at 14-0, a franchise record, and now a member of a small, elite group of teams to accomplish this feat.
The magnitude of what the Colts have accomplished this season is beyond the amount of superlatives in the English language to do them justice. The best to be said is that there are few teams that could have gone through what the Colts did this season and have that kind of record.
Here is what truly makes this team scary, and it’s not the fact that the team or their quarterback seem to be tying or breaking some record every week.
No, it’s this slight modification of a line from the move Gladiator, “a team should know when they are conquered.” But that’s the problem for other teams facing the Colts: they don’t know when they’ve been conquered. It’s not part of their vocabulary.
Half of the Colts’ wins this season have been fourth quarter comebacks. That's because there is no quit in this team. They’re like the serial killer in the horror movies who keeps getting back up no matter how many times you’ve killed him.
The Colts refuse to lose, regardless of what obstacles they have to overcome to win. Now that’s something to be feared.
Here is the problem every team facing the Colts in the playoffs is going to have to contend with: to beat the Colts you have to play a perfect game for 60 minutes, nothing less; not even 59 minutes and 59 seconds. That’s not good enough; you must play a perfect game, a game where you do not make a single mistake for the 60 minutes.
On top of that, you’re playing a team that can survive making multiple mistakes.
They can sit on the bench for 46 minutes of the game, Peyton Manning can throw three interceptions, the defense can give up big plays, or let the other team run all over them, and yet it doesn’t affect the outcome, because when it matters the most, somebody steps up for the Colts and makes a big time play.
It may be a superstar like Reggie Wayne, or it could be some guy that you never heard of before, but there will be somebody and they will make a play. Then the other team's 17-point lead just vanishes within a couple of minutes.
Name a team going into the playoffs that can play a mistake free game for sixty minutes.
If you're a fan of the NFL instead a fan of your own team, you can’t name one with a straight face.
That is the fact that all the pundits are missing. That is why the Colts are the scariest team in the playoffs right now.
Does all this guarantee that they’re headed to the Super Bowl? No, of course not, but it is why the media should be talking about the Colts as the last team that anyone wants to face in the playoffs.