As early as even 2006, the media had already dubbed the New England Patriots the team of the decade. After all, they had won three Super Bowls earlier in the decade and pretty much the only way they could be usurped is if a team basically won three of the last four Super Bowls of this decade.
But the Indianapolis Colts are a unique case. If they can pull off the monumental 19-0 perfect season that eluded the Patriots in 2007, does that change things? You can add on top of that that they already do have a Super Bowl. They do have more wins than the Patriots this decade. Their star quarterback has more MVP awards. So how would you rank them?
It pains me to say it, but I would pick the Patriots for the reason that they have kept the same personnel for their championships, i.e., quarterback, coach, multiple players, etc. The Colts on the other hand, are playing this season with a brand new head coach and without their Hall-of-Fame receiver Marvin Harrison.
Plus, to earn the title of team of the decade, you have to have at least one back to back Super Bowl-winning dynasty. The Packers had it in the 60’s. The Steelers did it twice in the 70’s. The 49ers did it with their last two championships in the 80’s. And the Cowboys did it in the 90’s.
It’s ironic to note that these two teams used to play each other twice every year because they were both members of the AFC East before realignment. It seems they play each other every year (which they do) but that’s due to finishing within the same place in the division.
It’s also ironic to note that these two clinched their respective divisions every year from 2003-2007 and then both finished in second place last season which assured they’d play again this year.
Now, head to head competition can also be looked at. The rivalry really didn’t ignite until 2003. That season and the next the Patriots beat the Colts in the regular season as well as in the playoffs. In 2005 and 2006, the Colts won both regular season meetings as well as the conference championship game in the latter year. The Patriots beat the Colts in 2007 and then the Colts returned the favor last season and then beat them this season.
That would put the series at 5-5 unless they meat again in the playoffs. The Pats do have the better head to head record in postseason play winning 2-1. But if they do meet in the playoffs and the Colts win, that destroys that possible tiebreaker.
So how can we decide? Is it most victories, or the timing of the victories? Is it overall wins, or simply wins against each other? Is it statistics or is it championships? Of course, if the Colts do not win the Super Bowl, much less go 19-0, this all becomes moot. But if they do become the greatest team of all-time, does that mean they’re the greatest team of this decade?