During the third quarter,* Kristine** asked me if I thought the Colts were a Super Bowl team. I pretty quickly and decisively answered “no.” I still believe that, but after some more thought, maybe I shouldn’t be quite so quick to dismiss the thought. Some of this is probably knee jerking from the big win yesterday, but I still think maybe it deserves some more thought.
*I think. It may have been earlier in the game.
**For those who don’t know, Kristine is a die-hard Packer fan, as is the rest of her family. She doesn’t necessarily mind the Colts, though I’m sure most of that is because of me. I’m sure she never would have gone to a Colts game if not for me.
First, I suppose, I should start off with why I said and still stand by “no.” Plainly put, I just don’t feel the Colts are that good. After spending a whole lot of years watching the Colts be dominant in the regular season just to flop in the playoffs, I have the (not wrong, but maybe inflated) idea that even getting to the Super Bowl is next to impossible. It takes an awfully special team* to make it, let alone win it. While this year’s Colts are admittedly better than I thought, I still don’t think they’re to that level just yet. Are the pieces there for it to happen? Yes, absolutely, especially if Reggie Wayne can squeeze out a couple more top-notch seasons. But this team still seems to be cutting too many games too close. Granted, the Colts were never going to blow out the Seahawks this year, so this comeback looks better than, say, the one against the Raiders. But, still, they don’t really seem to have the kind of dominating streak you would equate to being a real Super Bowl contender. Looking at how the Colts started that game would seem to point to the problems they will run into against better teams.
It’s also worth pointing out that the Seahawks have been a markedly different team on the road than they are in Seattle. I don’t know how much of that to attribute to their stadium and crowd and how much to the travel (which is London-esque, you might say), but I suppose it doesn’t much matter in the end. Seattle has been absolutely dominant in their two home games against Jacksonville and San Francisco. They’ve looked pretty shaky on the road. They struggled against Carolina and Houston had them dead-to-rights. The Seahawks were able to wiggle their way out in both of those games, but their luck finally ran out yesterday. While I do think some of that points to the Colts being a very good team, I’m sure there was a little bit of Seattle being a vulnerable road team, knocking down the quality of that win a notch or a half.
*Or inordinately lucky. See last year’s Ravens or either recent Giants championship.
Then again, there are reasons to consider that maybe they’re closer than I think. First off, I had them solidly pegged as a wild card team or even one of the first teams out of the playoffs. Now, I firmly believe they will win the division.* Part of this is because the Colts are better than I anticipated. Part of it is because the Texans look like they’ve taken a pretty serious step back. The Titans and Jaguars were never serious threats, even moreso now that the injury bug has bitten Tennessee.** But, geez, does Houston ever look lost right now. Winning a division should come with a much better draw in the playoffs, and possibly even a home date.*** Related to that, you look around the AFC and start playing the “If not us, then who?” game. And, well, it really starts to get you thinking about who else it would be.
*Kristine and I also talked about hanging banners for division championships and wild card berths, which the Colts do. We’re both against it, by the way.
**And Houston, for that matter. I’m sure the injuries around Matt Schaub haven’t helped his case lately.
**Though the Colts don’t really seem to be a much different team no matter where they play. I’m still trying to decide if that’s a positive or not.
Asking that question today would seem to give a pretty easy answer of Denver. But, I mean, if any fanbase knows any better, it would be Indianapolis. Peyton Manning always looks like the best quarterback ever by miles in the regular season. Things get dicey in the playoffs. And that was with him playing in a dome! Throw in that those secured home dates are now outside in Denver. That means freezing weather, very likely snowy weather, and that altitude. Granted, the Broncos should have been in the Super Bowl last year if their defense had just made one more (pretty easy) play. But Peyton wasn’t really the world beater he was in the regular in that game, either. In fact, John Fox had him take a knee instead of letting Peyton try to gun his way out of it. You might (should?) pin most of that blame on Fox making a mistake, but it sure isn’t the biggest vote of confidence.
Okay, so if you’re not scared of Denver in December and January, then who? New England has looked pretty shaky and finally got caught yesterday by Cincinnati. Cincinnati has looked better than expected, maybe, but is anybody really that scared of the Bengals? Houston’s problems have been referenced. The Chiefs are a threat, but again, would you say for certain they would be ahead of the Colts? I’m not sure you would find a majority taking that bet. The Dolphins look much improved, but again, there’s no reason to think that Colts can’t beat them after they just played a couple weeks ago.
So, yeah, maybe I would still bet on no, but you can now firmly count me in on the “anything is possible” bandwagon.