Dave's Sports Views

Analysis, humor and opinion on the sports world

Location: Dallas, Texas, United States

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Colts ... 16-0 breeds 19-0

Many people have mused about the Colts' chances of going 16-0, with their three games remaining against San Diego, Seattle (on the road) and Arizona. Most of the debate focuses on the merits of competing for a place in history and the need to keep players sharp, versus the risks of losing players to injury in games that will not affect the team's postseason standing.

To me, there's another key argument that's missing -- the need to enter the playoffs with the swagger a champion needs. That's particularly important for the Colts.

Certainly, coach Tony Dungy will want to keep his players sharp, especially now that he knows he'll have a week off before the Colts' first playoff game. And he won't want his players putting themselves in position to get hurt -- the Colts are far more than just Manning, James and Harrison.

But this is only marginally a different team from the one that has been beaten soundly by the Patriots in each of the past two seasons. What the Colts have lacked in past postseasons was not talent, but confidence. That's what they've shown this year, and they can cement it during these last three games. Making a statement by dominating a team of the caliber of the Chargers or the Seahawks will send a message to postseason opponents that the Colts can't be stopped.

In the past two years, the Colts haven't shown the toughness to get past New England. This year, Indianapolis has won impressively not just against New England but also against Pittsburgh, another team who has given the Colts trouble just by imposing their will upon them. But the playoffs can be a different animal -- a team's mental state is just as important as its physical condition. Over the final three weeks, Indy needs to show that they fear no one and expect to beat everyone. If New England comes into the RCA Dome, which could likely happen in the divisional playoffs, the Colts need to enter the game as if THEY are the team that has won the last two Super Bowls and expect to win again.

There's no better way to build that confidence than to finish the season strong. I'm confident that if Indy goes 16-0, they will eventually end up 19-0. But if they lose one of their remaining regular-season games, regardless of who's on the field for it, they'll send a message to playoff foes that they are beatable.



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