Monday, November 07, 2005
I am ready for some football
Today, I’m going to write an analysis of why the Patriots will beat the Colts. All rational analyses of the game have the Colts winning. All Pats fans, such as Bill Simmons, are forced to rationalize their forecasts of a Patriots victory by using irrational clichés such as “you should never bet against these guys,” or “the Patriots are in Peyton Manning’s head,” or “Tom Brady is super-special…he can never lose!” Much as I love hearing those arguments and agreeing with such proclamations, I admit that as analytical tools, these platitudes are worthless People have been saying the same things about the Yankees, and Captain Intangibles Derek Jeter, for the last decade; much to my chagrin, and I’ve always hated it. So I can’t have it both ways, hoping such intangibility applies in football and not baseball.
Instead I’m going to let you in on a secret as to why the Pats always beat the Colts: because we always have the better team. Circumstances leading up to the games have caused analysts to question that fact, even expect the Colts to win, (one example being the 2003 AFC Championship game, where the everyone was so excited because the Colts offense hadn’t had to punt in the first two playoff games, with a complete disregard for the difference between the 03 Chiefs and 03 Pats defense, for example.) So the question I must answer: are the analysts falling into the same trap? Should we expect another “upset?”
Wins and losses are what matters in the NFL: the Colts are 7-0 and the Pats are 4-3. But the difference in quality of opponents between the two teams provides fodder for conspiracy theorists such as myself. Is this a joke? I mean I know the NFL is for parity and all, but this is ridiculous.
The Colts have played: four teams who are 2-6 or worse (Tennessee, San Francisco, Baltimore, and Houston,) including the two worst teams in the league talent wise, a team destined for ten-plus losses who also managed to lose to the Texans (Cleveland), a .500 team that was thrashing the Colts in Indy before it lost its starting QB (St. Louis,) and a mediocre team that may make the playoffs, (Jacksonville) but probably isn’t one of the six best teams in its conference. The Pats have played two non-playoff teams that are better than at least five of the Colts’ opponents (Buffalo and Oakland,) four teams who are currently 6-2 and playoff-bound (Denver, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and Carolina,) and another team competing in the AFC for the last spot in the playoffs, (San Diego) whom is widely regarded as better than their 5-4 record shows.
I would venture to say, objectively, that the Pats have played five teams that are better than anyone the Colts have played, and that the Colts have played five teams that are worse than anyone the Pats has played. Our record against those five playoff-caliber teams is 2-3, despite four of these five games being on the road. Is this something to be proud of? No, especially when you’ve gone 28-4 the last two regular seasons. Is it evidence that the Patriots can be competitive with the elite teams in this league? Yes. Do we know that the Colts can be competitive with the elite teams in this league? No we don’t, because they haven’t played any. Maybe
This same argument applies to the Colts defense, the new darlings of the league. What offense have they played that can put up points?
The other key factor in the relative success of the Patriots and Colts has been the health of the two squads. The Colts have not suffered any injuries to key players, while the Pats, especially their defense, have been decimated. We have been without the key fulcrum of Bruschi, Harrison, and Seymour for much of the year, including all three in the
The team this week will be healthier then its lowest point in the season. Dillon is healthier.
The thing is, that team may be good enough to beat the Colts. We do have home-field advantage. We have shown we can compete with the elite in the league. We still have some great players on the field. And in the end, I think the Colts will be victims of their own glory, and be exposed as the worst 7-0 team of all time.
Patriots 31 Colts 21