Monday, October 22, 2007

Consider the Colts

On Sunday, the Patriots wowed us all with a 49-28 victory over the Dolphins. Tom Brady put up Tecmo Bowl stats (21-25, 354, 6 TDs), and Randy Moss continued his crusade to rid the world of competent defensive backs, bringing his season totals to a 732 yards and 10 TDs in 7 games (and I think Randy Moss is more likely to catch Jerry Rice's single-season record of 22 TD receptions than Tom Brady is to catch Peyton Manning's single-season record of 49 TD passes, but we shall see).

The Patriots are rolling. Football Outsiders points out that they've won their first seven games by 17 points or more each, an historic streak. I really do love Tecmo numbers, so Brady's 27 TDs, 2 INTs, and 73.8% passing is worth cooing over.

But let's consider that Sunday's win was against a still winless Dolphin team.

Tonight the Colts went into Jacksonville and came out with a 29-7 win. Jacksonville came into the game 4-1; the Colts won by 22 points and outgained them 384 yards to 226 yards. Peyton Manning and the Colts put up 29 points (27 offensive) against a team that had given up 58 points in its first five games (#1 in the league).

So consider this: the Patriots played an 0-6 team on the road that had been giving up 30.3 points per game, and and scored 49 points in a 21 point victory. The Colts played a 4-1 team on the road that had been giving up 11.6 points per game, and scored 29 points in a 22 point victory.

Which victory are you more impressed with?

The Patriots are impressively dominant, and deservedly Super Bowl favorites. But the Colts, winners of their last three games against the Patriots (two regular season games at New England and a playoff game at Indianapolis) are the defending champs.

The Patriots' division opponents are a combined 1-12 outside the division; the Colts' division opponents are a combined 8-2 outside the division (NFL standings). In a lot of their games, the Patriots are going to continue to look more impressive than the Colts. That doesn't mean the Colts (who have had some very impressive victories against competitive opponents) aren't ready to compete with the Patriots.

I'm not saying the Colts are better than the Patriots, and I'm not saying the Colts will beat the Patriots (in two weeks, or in three months). But while we're all admiring (or reviling) the incredible success of the 2007 New England Patriots, we have to remember that the 2007 Indianapolis Colts are looking rather impressive themselves.

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