Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Dr. Z: Colt team best of the Manning era

When you're a 7-point underdog and rising for a full 2 weeks like the Chicago Bears, you have to find good news where you can, or at least find reasons to debunk some of the bad news that comes along.

Dr. Z, Paul Zimmerman, of Sports Illustrated opened his column Monday with:

"Oh my God, where can I get a bet down on the Colts -- quick! OK, it's seven. I don't care if they bet it up to eight or nine, I've got to get in on this thing."

And ended with:

"I see a big Indy win, with the hurry-up gradually breaking down an opportunistic but worn out Bear defense. Final score: Colts 34, Bears 24."

The Doc also picked the Bears as the worst team in football going into 2005, but we've forgiven him for that. For the most part.

What's in between the quotes above is what doesn't make any sense. Zimmerman called the Bears' Super Bowl opponent "a Colt team that is the best of the Manning era." Really? The Colts were pretty good last year, I recall, falling just short of an undefeated regular season and then against Pittsburgh in the playoffs.

I'm a simple man looking at the simplest stats that define the goodness of a team. We can break down their shoddy run defense, their loss to the Texans, and Edgerrin James vs. Joe Addai another day. Here I'm just talking W/L, Points For, Points Against for the season.

2006: 12-4. 427-360
2005: 14-2. 439-247
2004: 12-4. 522-351

  • The 2005 version scored more and allowed 113 fewer points.
  • The 2004 version allowed fewer points and scored nearly 100 more.

How is neither of those teams better than the current one? And that's before you even consider that in 2006, the Colts did not have meaningless games at the end (as the Bears did) to hurt the overall numbers. They needed every game this year to earn 3rd in the AFC -- and perhaps the not-resting has helped put them on this playoff roll.

  • In 2005, after finally losing to San Diego, the Colts rested up, turned it over to Jim Sorgi and lost to Seattle 28-13, followed by the backups edging Arizona 17-13.
  • In 2004, the Colts rested and lost to the Broncos 33-14, then throttled them by 25 in the playoffs the following week.

Point being, the W/L, Points For, and Points Against in 2004 & 2005 were even better than they look on paper, and they already dwarf the 2006 iteration's accomplishments. I'll go as far as to say the 2006 Colts are the worst squadron they've fielded in the last 3 seasons. There's no shame in that at all, these are all very good teams we're talking about.

Not that I have a choice, the time machine is in the shop, but I'll take my chances with the Bears duking it out with the 2006 version instead of the others. Bearss.

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