If it were any other team I could understand all the hype the Indianapolis Colts were garnering heading into their playoff game. The accolades being showered on the Colts, before they have even reached their conference championship game, are that they have the greatest offense of all time, Peyton Manning is the greatest quarterback of all time, and that no one can stop them. A few things to remember before jumping on the locomotive express, which is the Colts bandwagon, before their game with New England:
1. The next big game Peyton Manning wins will be his first.
2. The Patriots have beaten the Colts three times in the past fourteen months.
3. Manning has never won at Foxboro, which is where the game will be held.
4. Over the last two seasons, including playoffs, New England is 31-4.
5. Also, during that run, New England is unbeaten at Foxboro.
6. Tom Brady is a two-time Super Bowl MVP, which is two more times than Peyton Manning has won it.
7. Bill Bellicheck is still the head coach of the New England Patriots.
8. This season, New England has one of the best running backs in the league.
9. There is no better team in the league that overcomes adversity and finds ways to win than New England.
10. New England has won 2 of the last 3 Super Bowls.
I know that the Patriots secondary is decimated. I know that Indianapolis could have the greatest offense of all time, and have Manning at the helm who is having the best season a quarterback could have. I know all this, but I look to a few things in picking the Patriots. First of all, Bellicheck’s influence cannot be overstated. He will find a new wrinkle or two to keep Manning from having a phenomenal game. Secondly, the Patriots can rely on Corey Dillon to milk the clock by running the ball close to 30 times. Third, the game is at Foxboro. With the outdoor elements, the grass field, the crowd noise, and the home staidum feel, it all favors New England. Fourth, no team in the league comes together like New England. Fifth, Tom Brady is the best big game quarterback in the league right now.
Peyton Manning may be the poster boy for the NFL for years to come. He’ll probably take on Brett Favre’s title as being the one quarterback in the league who can never be criticized. It should be noted here that Brady has one more Super Bowl win than Favre, two more Super Bowl MVP’s than Favre, and is a smarter passer than Favre. You would think at his age Favre would make smarter throws than he seems to have been doing the past few seasons. Yet, all we hear about Favre is his “love of the game” and all the games he started. Remember, it has been eight years since Favre won the Super Bowl.
I like Manning, and I like Favre, but I hate how the league denigrates other players and teams who have accomplished far much more than those two. Manning has stats, Favre has the raw passion and strength at his position, but Brady has the results. The way the league promotes, and the way the sports writers tell it, you would think Favre and Manning had won the last ten Super Bowls. This is the same as last season when everyone was jumping ship and picking the Colts to beat the Patriots, in the playoffs. This was after New England had won 15 games in a row. Back then I wrote about the disrespect shown the Patriots. Nothing has changed a year later.
Manning will one of these days beat New England, but until he does I won’t pick him. It’s like trying to figure out when the Atlanta Braves won’t end up in first place. With Atlanta there seemed seasons where it was painfully obvious they would not win the division, yet they haven’t finished out of first in 13 seasons (I believe.)
I do hope Manning doesn’t emmulate his hero Dan Marino by having all the stats and no rings, but I don’t see him winning today.
Patriots 24 – Indianapolis 21