One of the things we try to do here at Colts 101 is be fair. We're not critical just to appear "objective" and while we try to be enthusiastic about the home team (we're fans as well as journalists) we try not to let "homerism" affect our judgment. So when we optimistically predicted the Colts would finish 7-9 when the schedules came out, we really thought that was a possibility. Looks like even we underestimated what this young group could do.
The Colts find themselves 5-3 at the midway mark of 2012. If the playoffs began today, they would qualify as the sixth seed. And while it's not likely they're going to close the two game gap on the Houston Texans over the next eight weeks, it's beginning to look like this team very well could be a playoff squad.
Of the Colts remaining 8 games, they should be favored in four of them (at Jacksonville, v. Buffalo, v. Tennessee and at KC). While you can never count your chickens in the NFL, winning those four would put them at 9-7 at worst. Of the other games, only the games in New England and Houston would appear to be games in which the Colts would be a significant underdog. The Lions have been underwhelming this season, especially on defense, and the final game at home against the Texans may feature a heavy dose of Houston's second string if they've got home field wrapped up. Even if the Colts only steal one of those four games, that puts them at 10-6 and likely firmly in control of one of the wild card slots.
Now if they get matched up with Denver in the first round….
As for the rest of the NFL, here's what we saw in Week 9:
- The Bears are really, really good. Their defense shows that the Cover 2 still can be lethal at forcing turnovers when the right personnel is in place to execute it. They've got just enough weapons on offense to make that defense a difficult task to overcome. Their game with Houston next week could be a Super Bowl preview.
- What is happening down I-74 in Cincinnati? The Bengals had Peyton Manning and the Broncos on the ropes. They had picked him off on consecutive passes and held a three point lead in the fourth quarter. Then they folded like a cheap suit. Marvin Lewis called out his quarterback and middle linebacker last week for a lack of leadership. Looks like Marvin might want to look in the mirror. If they lose to the Giants this week, their season is over. It might be anyway unless they put together a dominant second half of the season.
- As special as Andrew Luck has been, Adrian Peterson's performance coming off his second knee surgery is simply amazing. The Vikings lost, but AP looked like he was paying tribute to Tecmo Bowl in the first half against the Seahawks. Anyone who saw that game saw that good running backs still matter in the NFL.
- Speaking of running, how do the Steelers do it every year? I've long joked that Old Man Rooney made a pact with the devil. Their defiance of age and injury makes me consider that as being plausible.
- The Dallas dumpster fire is a conflagration after last night's loss in Atlanta. Add the Sean Payton contract rumors and Jerry Jones' soap opera will be in full swing for the second half of the season. Has any team wasted more talent over the years than the Cowboys?
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