There are a lot of factors that go into winning a Super Bowl.
Luck can play a role, but teams holding out for luck to lead them to a Vince Lombardi Trophy are in for a long wait for a victory parade in their home city. Luck may have gotten the Los Angeles Rams into a Super Bowl three years ago, when a referee I will leave nameless to avoid causing his family undue stress during the holiday season, didn’t have his seeing eye dog with him when he missed a pass interference call that would have almost certainly clinched a trip to Super Bowl LIII for the New Orleans Saints.
But, what we know matters most to pave a path to a title is a solid defense, strong running game and a big game quarterback. Before this season began, a lot of bright people handicapping the National Football League pegged the Indianapolis Colts as a potential winner while the general public was fixated on the Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Los Angeles Rams and Buffalo Bills.
The bright people holding Colts Super Bowl wagers slipped them in the back of their drawer when Indianapolis opened the season with three straight losses and four of their first five games ended in defeat. Their opener, a setback to the Seattle Seahawks, was played at home, and we know that for the prior 55 Super Bowl winners only one of them lost on opening day on their home field. That was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002.
But, after that rocky start, the Colts have turned into a consistent winner and ended the New England Patriots seven game winning streak last Saturday to move into a prime postseason position. They have now won eight of their most recent ten games and even though they lost twice to the Tennessee Titans this year, the team they trail in the AFC South Division standings, they are just one game back and playing better than the division leader.
The Colts also have a solid defense and the leading rusher in the league this year, Jonathan Taylor. He has scored a touchdown in a record-tying eleven straight games, and his long touchdown jaunt through the Patriots defense on Saturday clinched the ten point victory that now has the Colts on the inside of the playoff race. His 11 straight games with a TD matches the streaks of John Riggins and LaDainian Tomlinson.
But how about a big game quarterback?
The Colts have been in an extended search to replace Peyton Manning since he left the Colts to join the Denver Broncos in 2012. That decade search included having now retired Philip Rivers play his last professional season in Indianapolis last year and the acquisition of Carson Wentz this off-season. Wentz was on his way to the Most Valuable Player award in 2017 in his second season with the Philadelphia Eagles. A late season injury ended his campaign and opened the door for backup Nick Foles to finish the Eagles only franchise Super Bowl winning season.
Injuries have been a recurring problem for Wentz.
He started his first season in Indianapolis banged up, missed the preseason, and that was one of the reasons the Colts stumbled out of the starting gate this year. He is healthy now, and with that said all Colts fans should immediately knock on wood.
By my numbers, Wentz has one coming. His glorious 2017 season was cut short by injuries and he never regained the magic with the Eagles he enjoyed that season. A new start in Indianapolis with quarterback-friendly head coach Frank Reich appeared before the season began to be a great combination … and after that rocky start is now paying dividends.
A Super Bowl for the Colts?
It’s back in the realm of possibilities.
If that is to be, the first step is to earn a postseason berth. While they have already played and lost both games against the team they trail by a game in the standings, the Titans, the Colts would have to end the season ahead by a game or more to win their division.
That could be a tall order, but with Tennessee an underdog at home to the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday, the Eagles could enter their Christmas night contest against the Arizona Cardinals on the road knowing a win puts them into a win/loss tie with the Titans.
If the cards fall right, and I think they will, the Colts end Week 16 with a share of first place in their division.
Qoxhi Picks: Indianapolis Colts (pk) over Arizona Cardinals