Read the argument from Loyal Homer about which team will have the easiest path to the Super Bowl.
Plenty of sports commentary websites will take up a bunch of space with writers making uneducated and unqualified predications about which team will win the Super Bowl. We here at The Sports Debates find that stupid. Rather, we are taking up your mind space today with a debate about which team has the easiest path to the Super Bowl, and why. These are not predictions, instead we offer just an analysis of a team’s path.
No team this season has a more clearly defined, straightforward path to the Super Bowl than the Indianapolis Colts.
As if the Colts need any additional rest, the team played so well in the regular season that they have earned the first week off. It is true that some will argue the Colts will receive too much rest. For a team based on rhythm offense it can be difficult to retain momentum after so much downtime. However, the Colts have already been in the position before – and still managed to win the Super Bowl in 2007. The team is comprised of professionals who understand the professional game and how to remain loose and ready to play. Yes, the team will be ready when the first playoff game rolls around… they will also be healthy with the time off afforded to the team that earns it. The Colts earned it.
Just two games, two wins, and the Colts are in the Super Bowl. It is not difficult to conceive the Colts playing in the Super Bowl, and when looking at the potential opponents, the matchups favor the Colts.
In the first game, after a nice, long, winter rest, the Colts will take on the winner of the Cincinnati Bengals and the New York Jets. The Jets, a team that basically backed into the playoffs, looked great against a Bengals team that was clearly not trying very hard. The Bengals started the season hot, but have delivered increasingly inconsistent running performances, and offensive turnovers have created a negative momentum for the team as it heads into the playoffs. As good as the Bengals defense has been, Manning and the Colts are always better. Regarding the Jets, the Colts were able to play them without playing many starters in week 16 and without revealing complex game plans. The Jets, on the other hand, were playing for playoff life, so very little was held back, putting the Colts in the strategic catbird seat – a seat Manning always keeps warm.
The second game for the Colts – the AFC Championship game – will most likely feature the New England Patriots or the San Diego Chargers. New England, a team that both lost its most reliable receiver in Wes Welker and, according to Charlie Casserly’s appearance on CBS’ pregame show on Sunday, has a quarterback who is playing with three broken ribs, will likely not be the once vaunted Patriots many expect. As good as the Chargers have played this 2009 season, the team is one-dimensional on offense and relies heavily on quarterback Phillip Rivers. The Colts do not have a shutdown defense, but they are good enough to stop a one-dimensional attack enough. As good as the Colts are on offense – and the team is excellent and balanced on offense – one of the more underrated but important stats is the Colts’ ability to sustain long drives thanks to veteran quarterback presence. In short, Manning’s presence allows the offense to play keep away from good offenses and keep the defense rested (as if it needs more).
Sure, the Colts lost a couple of games heading into the postseason. But, the starters were held out of the games that could have helped the 2009 Colts achieve immortality with a shot at an undefeated season. I will write what we all know – if the Colts’ starters play the entire length of every game this season they probably win each game. Instead of being regarded as a potentially legendary team headed into the playoffs, they are simply a good team that still has something to prove.
The Colts are solid in every aspect of the game. The team has excellent kickers, good returners, strong defense, and the league’s best passing offense with the most diverse set of weapons. While other teams in the NFC and AFC have entered the playoffs on a downswing with troubles (see New Orleans, Cincinnati, Minnesota, etc.), the Colts are best positioned to make a return to the Super Bowl. After the team gets to Miami, however, who knows what will happen!