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16 Teams the Colts Would Stand a Chance Against

Russell PuntenneyContributor IIIOctober 28, 2011

16 Teams the Colts Would Stand a Chance Against

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    Everybody knew the 2011 Indianapolis Colts were going to be bad, but nobody expected anything quite like this.

    Last Sunday night the Colts gave up 62 points to New Orleans, tying the record for the most allowed in a single game since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger.

    Granted, they were playing a high-powered Saints offense that had already been pretty dominant this season which, thanks to Sunday’s debacle, is now averaging a ridiculous 467 yards per game.

    But 62 points?

    The absence of Peyton Manning is no excuse for a performance like that. Turnovers are no excuse for a performance like that. Nothing excuses that kind of behavior, and nothing can be said at this point that would disguise the painful truth: this team just plain sucks.

    The questions surrounding the Colts are no longer whether or not they’re really this bad (they clearly are), it’s how much worse could they possibly get and, looking forward, how epically awful will remember them as being when all’s said and done?

    Forget trying to figure out whether or not they’ll win this year.

    Let’s just blow right past that bump in the road and dare to ask ourselves right now: “Is there any team these guys could beat?”

    We may never know the answer, but if there is one chances are you’ll find it on this list.

1. Miami Dolphins

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    The Colts definitely suck, but the Dolphins suck just as bad this year and just might have the skills to out-suck them if the two were ever to meet.

    Like the Colts, the Dolphins are now starting a backup quarterback with little professional experience, they’ve both been manhandled at times by top tier offenses (the Colts last Sunday, the Dolphins in Week One against the Patriots, when Tom Brady torched them for over 500 passing yards), and they’ve both managed to lose close games that they totally could have won (the Colts against Pittsburgh and Kansas City, the Dolphins against Cleveland and Denver).

    Both teams struggle to score points (their combined total is 201 so far, fewer than what Green Bay and New Orleans have produced on their own this season), and both teams have trouble keeping other teams from marching effortlessly down the field against them whenever they damn well please (Miami allows 377 total yards per game, a figure only top-ten offenses in the league produce on average, while Indy gives up 416 per game, which takes a top-five offense to recreate).

    They don’t play each other this season, so let’s all thank the football gods for that generous blessing, but if they did, you know that ball would be changing hands every five seconds and the winning team would be probably be whoever was able to capitalize on the other’s mistakes more often.

    That being the case, Indy’s -5 turnover margin (fifth worst in the league) trumps Miami’s -7 (third worse),  so we’re going to give this one to the Colts in a long, painful suck-fest.

    And there you go, just like that Indy has its first win of the season.

    Now how hard was that?

    Record: 1-0

2. St. Louis Rams

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    You can’t talk about terrible football teams anymore without mentioning the Rams at least once. That’s just a rule, and this year’s sorry sack of St. Louisianians is definitely living up to its namesake.

    The Rams have five total touchdowns this season, and it’s almost November.  Drew Brees scored five touchdowns in less than 40 minutes on Sunday night.

    The Rams have allowed 21 touchdowns this season, including 13 through the air, and give up 5.5 yards per carry on average to opposing running backs.  The Cowboys just beat these guys 34-7 with quarterback Tony Romo attempting only 24 passes, tying his career low for a single game.

    In short, they suck too, and as bad as the Colts looked last week, their cute little scoring outbursts in Weeks 3-5 have to inspire some confidence, or at least more than you’re getting from the Rams this year.

    The Colts win again, possibly even in a rout.

    Did somebody say “undefeated?”

    Record: 2-0

3. 2008 Detroit Lions

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    Lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!) is so out of date.

    Lions, Rams, and Dolphins: now there’s a scary trio for you.

    You knew the Lions wouldn’t be spared a verbal beat-down like this after all the missteps the hapless franchise has made over the years (we’d all feel strange if they weren’t included in some capacity), and we all know when it comes to horrible football teams, the 2008 Lions are the crème de le crème.

    They’re the only 0-16 team in NFL history.  Period.

    What else is there to say?

    Their offense was wretched (24th in passing, 30th in rushing), their defense was non-existent (27th in pass defense, 32nd in run defense), and their quarterback situation (featuring Jon Kitna, Dan Orlovsky, Drew Stanton, Drew Henson, and Daunte Culpepper) was more combustible than a Jersey Shore reunion show.    

    Are you still reading this?

    The Lions were absolutely terrible and to already think the Colts are bad enough to lose to the most notorious losers in NFL history is definitely reaching a little, don’t you think?

    This one goes to the Colts, just because it feels wrong to think otherwise.

    Record: 3-0

4. 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    The 0-14 ‘76 Bucs (the biggest Lions fans outside of Detroit, no doubt) were the first winless team in NFL history, and while it’s hard to call such a historically bad football team lucky, this group definitely shared a collective sigh of relief when Detroit one-upped them in 2008 (you can’t one-down somebody, can you?) by going 0-16.

    Those two additional losses have helped cover up what probably should still be labeled the worst team in NFL history considering how decisively they were whooped week in and week out exactly 35 years ago this season.

    The ’76 Bucs lost by an average margin of 20.5 points per game (the ’08 Lions lost by a margin of just over 15 points, to compare), they were completely shut out in five of their 14 contests (the Lions were never shut out), and on three separate occasions, they finished an entire game with less than 15 passing yards, something even Detroit’s caravan of misfit quarterbacks never came close to matching (their lowest single-game total was 99).

    This is another situation where just have to grant the ’11 Colts the benefit of a doubt, because if they were anywhere near the level of the ’76 Bucs, their games against Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, and Kansas City never would have been close.

    Don’t call it a comeback, but Indy’s officially riding a hot streak now.

    Record: 4-0

5. 2007 Miami Dolphins

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    You again?

    The fact Miami is flirting with a winless season this year is no coincidence; the Dolphins have had plenty of practice when it comes to totally sucking, and they damn near laid a big fat goose-egg as recently as 2007.

    To be precise, one six-point overtime win in Week 15 is all that kept the ’07 Dolphins from joining Detroit and Tampa Bay in the NFL Hall of Shame’s most hallowed section, and as if you couldn’t already tell, they were definitely a painful group to watch.

    Statistically superior to most teams on this list (they were only outscored on average by about 10 points per game), the ’07 Dolphins were more choke-artists than they were pushovers (they lost six games by three points or less, including an absolutely tortuous 0-3 loss against Pittsburgh in Week 12 in which neither team scored until the final 17 seconds of the game) and many of their games were legitimately winnable well into their closing minutes.

    Though obviously skewed by last week’s shellacking, Indy (by comparison) is losing its games by more than 16 points on average right now and has so far shown absolutely no ability to close out winnable games either. So if these two lay-downs ever threw down, you know the game would be terribly frustrating to watch and it probably wouldn’t be decided until the very last second.

    So who wins?

    The deciding factor in this one has to simply be the ability to put points on the board, and considering Miami was averaging almost 20 a game that year before starting quarterback Trent Green went down with a concussion in Week 5 and still finished with a higher per game average than what Indy is producing so far this year, it’s only fair we give them the edge.

    4-1 over a five-game stretch?

    Pretty sure the entire city of Indianapolis would soil themselves right now after a performance like that.

    Record: 4-1

6. 1990 New England Patriots

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    Lombardi trophies haven’t always been raining from the New England sky, and up until this past decade, they’d never fallen at all.

    The peak of their pitiful pre-dynasty period came in 1990, when the Patriots started three different quarterbacks you’ve never heard of before (whose jerseys were numbered 13, 14, and 15, on a completely irrelevant side note), won a single game all year by just two measly points, and finished the season allowing the second-most points in the league while scoring the fewest.

    The hands-down low point of the season (the on-field one, at least) came in Week 15, when the Pats were losing to Washington 9-0 on national television before the Redskins offense had even ran a play.

    The Colts cruise to victory in this one, with Freeney and Mathis leading all scorers.

    Even though they win, however, the Pats might have the last laugh.  Who’s the one team those nauseating ’90 Patriots did manage to beat, you ask?

    Why your Indianapolis Colts, of course.

    In Indianapolis.

    Now that one stings.

    Record: 5-1

7. 1991 Indianapolis Colts

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    It’s almost like looking into a mirror.

    A funhouse mirror.

    With vomit all over it.

    If you had a time machine, you just might be able to trade the 2011 Colts for the 1991 Colts without anybody knowing the difference.  The uniforms have only changed slightly, for one thing, and the on-field performances have barely changed at all. 

    Both teams have severe problems at quarterback (’91 Colts have Jeff George in his second season, ’11 Colts have Curtis Painter in his third plus some 38-year-old trying to do his best Paul Blake impression), both struggle to score points (the ’91 Colts set a record for the fewest ever and the 2011 version has the seventh-fewest in the league right now), and both struggle to create any sense of offensive rhythm whatsoever (every other team had more first downs than in Indy in 1991 and only Jacksonville has less than they do this season) .

    Alright, to be fair to this year’s squad, there really isn’t much of a comparison between these teams beyond their common city of origin and the fact that they both suck, but you get the idea.

    The Colts took bad to a whole new level in ’91 (they averaged a mind-boggling 8.9 points per game that year), and nothing we’ve seen from the Colts this year has indicated they’re anywhere near that state of complete and utter futility just yet.

    Until that happens, this matchup has to be ruled in favor of the ’11 team, despite how much it must pain the Colts to further embarrass their alumni, and despite how tempted we all must feel to just call this one a draw.

    Congratulations, Colts.

    You’re slightly better now than you were at your absolute worst 20 years ago.

    Keep up the good work.

    Record: 6-1

8. 2001 Carolina Panthers

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    The ’01 Panthers were just another 1-15 monstrosity in many ways, but they do have the distinction of being the first to compile so many losses consecutively.

    That’s right, a 24-13 victory over Minnesota in Week 1 was followed by 15 straight Carolina defeats that year, including five games in which they scored seven or fewer points and four in which they produced less than 50 total rushing yards.

    To help put this pathetic Panthers platoon in perspective for our purposes here, however, their 15 losses were by a margin of about 11 points per game, seven of their losses were decided by four points or less (including one to the eventual 12-4 49ers), and their roster did include three Pro Bowlers and an All-Pro in rookie receiver/kick returner Steve Smith.

    Unfortunately for the Colts, the key advantage Carolina would hold at wideout would probably be the deciding factor in this game, as all other factors aside, Steve Smith as a rookie and Muhsin Muhammad in his prime definitely outweigh Jacob Lacey and Jerraud Powers any day of the week.

    The Colts are allowing opponents to complete 72 percent of their passes so far this year.  The highest single-season completion rate for any quarterback in NFL history is 70.9 percent, a mark Drew Brees just reached in 2009.

    Those shameful numbers are a result of some of the most appalling cornerback play we’ve ever seen, and Indy’s coverage mishaps would definitely be exposed in this matchup, no matter how balanced the game may otherwise appear to be.

    The Colts still have plenty of confidence as they reach the halfway point, then, but they definitely experience a wakeup call in this one before it arrives.

    Record: 6-2

9. 1980 New Orleans Saints

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    Ah, the ‘Aints.

    Surely the Colts can score an easy victory here against a team so heinous its fan base famously wore paper bags over their heads to spare themselves the embarrassment of cheering for them, right?

    Not so fast.

    The ‘Aints averaged over 300 yards of offense per game, 17th in the league that year.  The Colts offense is averaging only 280 yards per game right now, third worst in the league.

    The ‘Aints scored 18.2 points per game on average and racked up over 300 passing yards on five separate occasions.  The 2011 Colts are scoring only 15.9 points per game this year and have yet to throw for more than 280 yards in any single game.

    The difference in this contest lies with defense, however, because although the Colts have shown only small glimpses of even having one this year, the 1980 Saints sustained an equally troubling performance for a full 16 games.

    The ‘Aints gave up over 30 points in half of their games.  Indy has allowed more than 30 in just two of their seven so far.

    From as much as we know at this point, then, the Colts would win this one in an easy-scoring, back-and-forth shoot-out, exciting to the very last minute and mortifying for defensive coordinators on both sides of the field.

    But hey, a win’s a win.

    Record: 7-2

10. 1981 Baltimore Colts

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    If playing the ’81 Indianapolis Colts was like a team fighting itself, this matchup is kind of like a team fighting its evil twin brother.

    Who also happens to totally suck, by the way.

    There’s certainly no love lost between Baltimore and Indianapolis when it comes to the Colts, but if there’s any way for them to find some common ground this just might be it; the team these cities once fought over has caused both fan bases plenty of anguish over the years, and the two incarnations spotlighted in this contest are definitely among the most disturbing.

    In 1981, the Colts brought the city of Baltimore two victories in 16 games, seven losses by more than 20 points, and two more interceptions than touchdown passes on the year (23 and 21, respectively).

    The two wins they did notch were by a combined three points and were both over a terrible New England team that also went 2-14 that year, and the 533 points they allowed that season still constitutes an all-time NFL record.

    In 2011, to compare, the Colts have so far brought the city of Indianapolis no victories in seven games, the single most lopsided loss in modern NFL history, and twice as many fumbles as rushing touchdowns (10 and four, respectively).

    That one historical loss they suffered was at the hands of a Saints team that was held to just 20 points by the 28th ranked defense in the league just one week prior, and the 150 rushing yards Indy is allowing per game right now is the second-most in the NFL.

    Even though both teams have been extremely disappointing, however, it’s easy to see the ’81 edition just squeaked by for the only two wins that kept them from going 0-16, and it’s easy to see the ’11 crew still has some distance between themselves and that kind of eternal infamy.

    The ’81 Colts were one of the worst statistical teams in the history of football and there’s no way they walk away from this one victorious.

    Another fine performance from the 2011 Colts, then, who appear to be on a roll once again.

    Way to not lose, you guys!

    Record: 8-2

11. 1989 Dallas Cowboys

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    Somewhere between the first Cowboys dynasty and the second, Dallas briefly fell into a state of total mediocrity, and when the 1989 season kicked off, this team was in its rarest, most thoroughly hopeless form.

    The ’89 Cowboys scored the fewest points in the league, allowed the fourth most, and produced fewer total yards than all but one team.

    They were completely shut out in three of their games (which they lost by a combined 70-0), they were held to under 200 total yards in five of them (including a Week 15 catastrophe against the Giants in which they racked up just 41 yards on the ground and 67 through the air), and their two rookie starting quarterbacks (Troy Aikman and Steve Walsh) combined for almost twice as many interceptions that year as they did touchdowns (27 picks, 14 TDs).

    The ’89 Cowboys certainly weren’t lacking in talent (besides Aikman, their roster also featured big names like Herschel Walker, Michael Irvin, Daryl Johnston, and Ed “Too Tall” Jones), but it was distributed in all the wrong places at the worst possible time: their young players were too green to make a difference and their veterans were too old to compensate.

    Chief among the Cowboy’s weaknesses that year, however, and the reason the Colts would ultimately defeat them if they ever played, was their constant struggle to generate turnovers, a struggle highlighted by the inefficiency of their bumbling offense that left them with a ridiculous turnover ratio of -25 when the season finally came to a close.

    The Colts’ turnover ratio is 25th in the league right now, but at -5, they obviously would have what it takes to outlast those crummy ’89 Cowboys over 60 long minutes if they ever got together.

    That’s another victory for the Colts, who now are starting to make it look easy out there.  

    Record: 9-2

12. The Replacements

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    The “replacements” aren’t even really professional football players, they’re just a bunch scrubs who get called on to finish a season for some team after its actual roster goes on strike.

    Their quarterback is Keanu Reeves for crying out loud!

    Now granted the Colts do have one of the worst football teams in recent memory right now and sure, they have had a tendency to virtually beat themselves in the contests we’ve seen them play so far.

    But that doesn’t mean you could just start plucking random dudes off the street and still wind up with a better team than Indy, people! Get real!

    This is still a professional football team we’re talking about here, folks, no matter how little they may have resembled one last week!

    Next!

    Record: 10-2

13. An Arena Football Team

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    To try and make this fair, we’ll only consider the best Arena team out there, which right now happens to be the Jacksonville Sharks.

    The Sharks went 14-4 this past season and, in August, they beat the 16-2 Arizona Rattlers in Arena Bowl XXIV to become the undisputed Arena football champions of the world.

    Big whoop.

    Arena Football League Champions?  You can find a more meaningful title just shopping for novelty t-shirts these days.

    Sorry to break it to you, but nobody’s ever going to care how good an Arena Football League player you are as long as the NFL still exists; that’s just the way it is.

    Just because the Sharks completed more than 70 percent of their passes this year doesn’t mean they have what it takes to swim with the big boys, and even though the Colts have had trouble holding their own against any team they’ve faced so far this season, let’s not forget the competition they’re up against is arguably the toughest in all of sports.

    Who’s to say an Arena team even knows how to play in the NFL anyway?

    The entire Arena field is only 50 yards, most players line up on both sides of the ball, and there’s only 16 total players on the field at any given time. It’s like going from ping pong to tennis (and we all know how many awesome ping pong players out there would totally suck at tennis).

    The Colts dominate as usual.

    Record: 11-2

14. A College Team

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    Again, we’ll only consider the best team out there, and in this case that’s the 8-0 LSU Tigers, who’ve won two National Championships in the last eight seasons and have absolutely dominated their competition so far this year.

    Again, big whoop.

    No college team would ever beat an NFL team under any circumstances.  Period.

    NFL teams are really nothing but college All-star teams in essence anyway (except they get to keep their best players as long as they want), and even though the NFL has had its pick of every college football player in the history of the world, they’ve only invited the upper tenth of a percent of them into their ranks so far.

    Chalk up one more for the boys in blue.

    Record:  12-2

15. A Lingerie League Team

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    Now this is just silly.

    Sure, Colts quarterbacks have had trouble hanging on to the ball this season.

    Yes, the Colts defense has been pushed around like a ragdoll every game and usually lets opposing wide receivers just freely roam the field however they see fit all game long.

    True, the Colts haven’t heard their head coach speak in almost three years now.

    But come on.  A Lingerie League team?

    The only way the Colts might lose is if they have to play in their underwear, in which case no one would be willing to stand directly behind Jeff Saturday long enough to even receive the hike.

    Assuming NFL rules (and wardrobes), then, the Colts pounce all over this one, then get straight to work immediately trying to secure a long series of rematches with their opponent the moment regulation ends.

    It’s good to be on top.

    Record: 13-2  

16. Your Fantasy Team

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    Yet another situation that definitely works in Indy’s favor.

    Your fantasy team is more talented and all, but come on: they don’t even have linemen! Surely the Colts are competent enough to exploit an advantage that pronounced, right?

    Then again, your fantasy team does have a really good defense that would probably be able to score plenty of points on its own just capitalizing on Colts mistakes. Plus you do have a kicker.

    We’re going to call this one for the Colts but only in a boring, low-scoring affair.

    And there you have it. Sixteen games and Indy’s sitting at 14-2 and feeling pretty darn good about itself.

    All that’s left to do now is simply trade Peyton Manning, sign Curtis Painter to a long-term deal, and keep scheduling games against atrocious football teams so astoundingly inept even you have a chance at beating them.

    After all, even if it is just some imaginary made-up number that doesn’t mean anything, 14-2 still sure sounds a whole lot better than 62-7, doesn’t it?

    Final Record: 14-2

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