In checking my analytics, I see I have some new countries to add to the fold. Welcome to Israel, Italy, and Hungary.* I’d also like to point out that IE is the third-most used browser to view the blog. My personal favorite, Chrome, is in second, with Firefox leading the way by a wide margin. Just an interesting observation.
*I think Italy is new, anyway.
2012 ended on some high notes in the local sports scene. Purdue could still pretend to be a bowl-worthy team, the Pacers finally could say they were on a real roll, and the Colts managed to make the playoffs as the first wild card. And there is plenty good to say about the Colts. For one, I don’t see how you argue that Pagano and/or Arians aren’t the coach(es) of the year. 70% of the roster turned over from last year, which left precious little experience on the field. And that group, without Peyton Manning, won two games. This year, with even less experience and renown, this team has won 11 games. Not too shabby. Related to that, Ryan Grigson has to be the executive of the year. The argument seems to be going to John Elway right now, and I just don’t get it. He supposedly took this huge gamble by adding Manning. I mean, did everybody in the media forget just how freaking good Manning was in Indy over the year he was out? Let me repeat this. The same core that had consistently won ten to twelve (or more) games every year, minus Manning, managed two whole wins. That shows you just how much Manning elevated that team. If he was anything resembling healthy, there was no real gamble here. And with the workouts he did before he signed, I’m sure Elway lost exactly zero seconds of sleep. In fact, that number was probably negative. Would you sleep a little more soundly if you were told your team would be quarterbacked by Peyton Manning instead of Tim Tebow?
So, yeah, accolades are not out of order, and I don’t mean to imply otherwise. But, let’s be frank here, the Colts are the worst team in the playoffs, and if they aren’t, chances are they’ve got the good fortune to have drawn the other candidate in that race. The Colts, for practically the entire part of the season where they’ve won, have played outright awful for three quarters. Typically they’ve only been in the game by the grace of God. Or, if you’d rather, having the good fortune of playing the worst schedule in the NFL, thanks to a weak division and a very weak year last year. That has been what my eyes have been telling me for several weeks now, and the stats seem to back that up. You just don’t generally advance far into the playoffs with those sorts of numbers. Hell, you don’t typically win more than a couple games with numbers like the Colts have put up. But, clearly, the Colts have had nothing but good fortune since they decided to let Manning go.
The latest turn in the Colts run of good luck,* they’ve managed to draw a Baltimore team that couldn’t seem more lost at the moment. Part of that has been injuries, but this offense has been middling at best for a few years now. Joe Flacco, though I want so badly for him to succeed, doesn’t seem like he is going to be much more than a serviceable NFL quarterback. Apparently the team is acutely aware of this. Why else would a ten win division champion feel the need to fire their offensive coordinator 14 weeks into the season? Especially when your replacement is maybe the least inspiring coach ever, or at least in recent memory, Jim Caldwell. I think most Colts fans would agree. I liked Caldwell just fine, and I don’t think any of last year’s two win season was really his fault. But, I would have to agree that he certainly wasn’t going to inspire anybody to run through the proverbial brick wall. Certainly not the guy you want to hand the reins to when you’re looking for some great spark. And judging by the Ravens response, they have totally failed to get that spark.** They had their own good fortune to be in a weak division this year as well.
*As opposed to the quarters one through three Luck. Har har har.
**The only win the Ravens have got since making that change was a 33-14 win over the also free falling Giants, which probably says a lot more about the Giants than it does about the Ravens.
So, as much as I believe that the Colts* are this years “Good Bad Team,” I actually have a decent amount of faith that they are going to pull off this upset. The Colts might have only beaten one actually good team this year in the Packers,** but I just have a feeling that they are going to go on the road and beat this mess of a Baltimore team. And we can all pretty well thank Chuckstrong for that one, too. You might remember that Pagano came from the Ravens’ defense, and the Ravens defense, by all accounts, absolutely adored him. Emotion will only take you so far, and a lot of that emotion has been spent already by the Colts. But look for a whole new surge when Pagano gets back to Baltimore.
*Along with the just-missed-the-cut Bears.
**Who have had their own ups-and-downs this year.
And if it does happen like I think, look for an awful lot of grumbling out of Baltimore. I’m sure it just twists the knife a little harder for Indianapolis to be the team to put them out of their misery in these playoffs, at least for older fans.