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2009 Colts: a Perfect Season or an Easy Schedule?

Mark RobinsonContributor IDecember 20, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 15:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts greets Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots after the game at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 15, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  The Colts won the game 35-34. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

As much as people are getting excited over their "path to perfection", I'll be realistic when I say that the Colts have had a remarkably easy schedule this season which has helped with their undefeated streak.

If you look at the teams they have beaten, only five of their opponents currently have a better record than .500. Those teams are:

Dolphins—7-6-0

Cardinals—8-5-0

Patriots—8-5-0

Ravens—7-6-0

Broncos—8-5-0

I'm not sure if you have looked at the standings recently, but none of the above teams will realistically be taking the week off during the first week of the playoffs. This essentially means that the Colts have not played a Top Four NFL team all season.

I know some of you will question that statement, particularly given that both the Patriots and the Cardinals are division leaders, while the Broncos won their first six games of the season.

The Colts caught the Cardinals at a very vulnerable stage of their season. They were 1-1 at the time and did not start a winning streak until after the loss to the Colts. But the opponents they beat were not particularly strong (Texans, Seahawks twice, Giants, Bears, Rams).

It wasn't until their victory over the Vikings in Week 13 that you could say the Cardinals were a threat in the NFC. However, they have lost twice to the 49ers and had their winning streaks broken by the Panthers and the Titans.

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The Colts played the Patriots at Lucas Oil Stadium, a Patriots away game. As we have seen all season, the Patriots have struggled to win away from home. In fact, the Patriots are undefeated at home, yet the only away game they have won was played at Wembley Stadium against the Buccaneers, essentially a neutral stadium.

And consider the fact that the Colts scored the winning touchdown with only 13 seconds left on the clock, thanks to the Bill Belichick's infamous decision to go for it on fourth down on the Patriots' own 28 with over two minutes left on the clock. Realistically, the Colts shouldn't have won that game, but we can blame the shocking decision and the Patriots' defense for that.

As for the Broncos, they may have won their first six games, but they lost their next four. They followed that up with wins against average opponents in the Giants and the Chiefs. By the time they played the Colts, they were a shadow of the team that had started the season. And it was another Colts' home game which made it almost a foregone conclusion that the Broncos would lose.

Yes, it is still impressive that the Colts have remained undefeated all season. But they have yet to play a strong team, like the Saints or the Vikings, to really test them.

If you want to look at a tough schedule, all you have to do is look at the Patriots. Say what you will about how they are not the team they used to be, but the NFL has not made it easy on them this season.

They have played three undefeated teams in away games this year (Broncos, Colts, and Saints), losing all three. To their credit, they were ahead for most of the game against the Broncos and Colts, losing in overtime and in the final minute respectively.

If they had held on for the win in those two games, they would be sitting at 10-3 and well in contention for a break in the first week of the playoffs. And all this talk of an undefeated season for the Colts would have ended in week 10.

In case you have guessed, I am a Patriots fan. And I, like every other Patriots fan, hold my team's accomplishment in 2007 as far greater than what the Colts have done this year.

In 2007, the Patriots beat seven opponents who had a record of more than .500. Those teams were:

Chargers—11-5-0

Browns—10-6-0

Cowboys—13-3-0

Redskins—9-7-0

Colts—13-3-0

Steelers—10-6-0

Giants—10-6-0

As you can see, they defeated four of the division leaders who had won at least 10 games during the season. By beating the Cowboys and the Colts, they had beaten two of the top four teams in the NFL standings.

And considering that both were away games for the Patriots, that was quite an accomplishment. The only other strong team that they didn't play was the Packers (13-3-0), who were beaten by the Cowboys during the season.

The thing about the 2007 Patriots is that, prior to Superbowl 42, they were miles ahead of any team in the league. I cannot say the same thing for the 2009 Colts, who have had some close wins against the Jaguars, Dolphins, 49ers, and Ravens. That's hardly a case for comparing them to the 2007 Patriots. Even if the Colts maintain their perfect record and win the Superbowl, there is still no comparison.

As for the Colts, we will see how they do once the playoffs begin. As history has proven, they are a very different team when it comes to the big games. Let's see if that history comes back to haunt them once again.

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