Yeah, I know what you're thinking. What? The Colts? No way. They couldn't run, their defense was bad, and the team just wasn't the same Colts we were used to seeing throughout the decade.
To me the Steelers won just like how the Houston Rockets won those two titles when Michael Jordan was retired during those two seasons—just like how the Knicks finally beat the Bulls in the playoffs without Jordan on the team.
Even though Manning played throughout the 2008 season unlike Brady, he had to go through knee surgery and miss the entire training camp and preseason. We all know how Manning loves training camp and can't go through a season without it. He needed his training camp to get in sync with his players and his rythem with them. You can tell at the beginning of the season that the surgery had affected his performance and didn't have that chemistry with his players.
Teams were also taking advantage of the Colts. Knowing that Manning wasn't the same that year they were always blitzing and putting him under pressure. I also believe that they coudln't get the run game going and have that balanced offense were used to seeing because he had to throw many times because they were down in most games.
Now compare the 2008 Indianapolis Colts to this year's team. They had a healthy Marvin Harrison, a veteran wide receiver and one of Peyton's best weapons throughout his whole career. You had a healthy Anthony Gonzalez playing the slot position, and you had an experienced back in Dominic Rhodes who was part of the 2006 championship.
What would have happened if Manning had not had his knee surgery and was completely healthy and in training camp during the 2008 season?
I believe if Manning were healthy and had gone through training camp, they would have won the Super Bowl that year. If Manning were healthy, the team would not have gone through that horrible start; they wouldn't be struggling to win their division or make the playoffs.
They had better weapons that year compared to this season. Come on now: Donald Brown, Pierre Garcon, and an injured Gonzalez—yeah, nothing more needs to be said.
Also, if Brady were healthy during the '08 season, I think the Colts still could've beaten them because they had just gone through that tough loss to the Giants, and I think it would have taken them some time to get that bitter funk out of their system.
It's obvious now that Manning and Brady are completely healthy for the 2009 season, the Steelers are not doing too well. Even though the Steelers didn't play the Colts or Patriots this year, who would you take in the playoffs?
Also, Tony Dungy was still their coach. It would have been great if he had retired with another championship.
Can you imagine if they had the same players from last year?