Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

28 Nov 2005

MMQB: Please, Dungy, Don't Sit Manning

Peter King writes that Tony Dungy told him he'll rest his starters if the Colts clinch home-field advantage, playing for a healthy Super Bowl run rather than an undefeated season. I'm torn. On the one hand, I think it's the right move from a strategic standpoint. On the other hand, I'd love to see a team take a real run at 16-0. Of course, it's entirely possible that the Colts will lose tonight and suddenly become more concerned with falling behind Denver than with keeping up with the '72 Dolphins.

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 28 Nov 2005

68 comments, Last at 29 Nov 2005, 1:39pm by dryheat

Comments

1
by JonL (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 12:17pm

The stat of Colts-Broncos with/without Manning seems a bit selective to me. The Broncos are certainly different this year (although better), but one could argue that the Colts are as well. I'm not saying the Colts would win playing their backups, but is Manning alone worth a 40-point swing?

His pick of Ryan Anderson as offensive POW was interesting. I know absolutely nothing about this guy. For all the press their OLs get, how much has he helped Denver's running game the last few years?

2
by Israel (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 12:29pm

In the unlikely event this develops, it probably wouldn't happen until the last two weeks. They can beat arizona with backups and seattle may be resting people as well as they are also likely to have HFA wrapped up.

3
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 12:35pm

Manning? Manning? I'm sorry, I didn't realize that Manning had himself cloned 21 times and the Colts were now the All-Manning team.

Dungy isn't going to just sit Manning. He's going to sit most of the starters. Which is the right thing to do - starters get injured all the time. Philly last year is of course the example, and they went into the playoffs with no one save Owens on the injury report, if memory serves.

It sounds so simple. Play Manning, and you win! But Manning won't win without his starting wide receivers, or Edgerrin James, or his starting offensive line. Or his starting defense, for that matter. And now you're talking about putting 21 starters at risk for a completely pointless statistic.

No way Dungy's that stupid.

4
by bravehoptoad (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 12:47pm

Who's says it's pointless? Do the '72 Dolphins think it's pointless? Do the fans who repeatedly vote for them as the best team ever think it's pointless?

It's a strange stand to take. Perfection is pointless.

Hunh.

5
by Michael David Smith :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 12:50pm

"His pick of Ryan Anderson as offensive POW was interesting. I know absolutely nothing about this guy."

You weren't kidding that you know nothing about him. You don't even know his name.

6
by Mike (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 12:57pm

King's praise of the '05 Bears defense (vs. the '85 Bears defense) is, well, Peter King's writing.

However, I think an interesting project to run would be to work on putting together DVOA for the '85 Bears and the '72 Dolphins. They're the ones who always draw comparisons.

I mean, a March project, not a December project, of course.

7
by JonL (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 1:13pm

Where the hell did I get Ryan Anderson from?

8
by doktarr (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 1:15pm

Pointless? Well, it's a matter of perspective, isn't it? If the only thing that matters is the Superbowl, then yes, it's pointless (once Denver is firmly in the rear-view mirror).

I think we can all agree that 16-0 means very little if you fail to win the Superbowl. If that happens, you live on, but as a cautionary tale rather than a tale of glory. On the other hand, if you go 19-0, that's immortality. Since all they are playing for is history anyway, that certainly counts for something. The question is, are you willing to risk the championship in order to have a chance at 19-0. It's a perfectly reasonable, debateable question in my opinion.

Two more points:

- The Colts of the last few years (well, Manning in particular) have taken a rap, fairly or unfairly, as a team that cared about stats or records rather than championships. So for them, there is a bit of a paradoxical motivation to NOT try to win out once they clinch HFA, to prove the point that it's all about the championship this year.

- Assuming Denver keeps winning (granted, they're away at KC this week) this is only the last two weeks we're talking about, right?

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to pick up Aaron Brooks as a backup QB for my fantasy team.

9
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 1:19pm

Well, going for perfection is pointless. It's as if you were offered a 90% chance at $10,000, or a 50% chance at $11,000. It's not that much more impressive to have an undefeated season, and it's a lot riskier.

Scramble Indy's season around - would you be so impressed if Indy's season finished with Houston-San Francisco-Arizona-Houston? Going undefeated has a lot more to do with luck of scheduling than team strength.

10
by jebmak (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 1:27pm

Compare how often people talke about the '72 Dolphins to any other specific year in the 70's. If the Colts win the Super Bowl, they will just be another Super Bowl winner, but if they go undefeated, people will remember it for decades. I don't want to minimize winning the Super Bowl, but instead of being in an exclusive group of 40, you are in an exclusive group of two. Oh, and I don't want to be subjected to so many writers saying well they would have made it, but they sat their starters.

11
by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 1:34pm

Pat:

While I don't think the Colts should risk anything just to have the chance to go undefeated, I do think you're lowballing the impact a 19-0 season would have. Can you name, off the top of your head, the 1996 Super Bowl champs? The 1983 champs? The 1975 champs?

My point is that many, many teams have won Super Bowls. Only one has won every game in a year. To match that would be impressive indeed.

I still wouldn't try it, except with Sorgi to Fletcher as the main combo.

12
by Kevo (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 1:38pm

I agree with #10. 50 years from now, people will still mention Griese and Shula. Will they still mention Billick and Dilfer? No way. That's not to say that Dungy and Manning are Billick and Dilfer, but an undefeated season turns a good (or great) coach and QB into legends of NFL lore.

The common debate in the past few years has been Brady vs. Manning. Brady's won Super Bowls, but has he gone undefeated? If the Colts win out, every knock on their defense, their ability to win in the clutch, their hunger for winning--it all goes away.

There's a reason people mention the '72 Dolphins every single year.

13
by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 1:47pm

Purds:

"Can you name, off the top of your head, the 1996 Super Bowl champs? The 1983 champs? The 1975 champs?"

By season year, Super Bowl being the following calendar year - 1996-Packers, 1983-Raiders, 1975-Steelers.

14
by JonL (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 1:49pm

I would argue, though, that the reason the '72 Dolphins are remembered is that they won the Super Bowl. If they didn't, they'd most likely be remembered as a fluke team that couldn't get it done when it counted.

And to be fair, people still mention Billick and Dilfer, but it's more of the "can you believe they won the Super Bowl" variety.

15
by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 1:57pm

Let's look at this Colts thing another way:

Can anyone give examples of teams that should have rested athletes but didn't, and then had those athletes become injured in a "meaningless" game?

TO last year doesn't work, because the Dallas game clinched HFA for the Eagles. Thus, it wasn't a meaningless game.

I know anecdotes don't really hold much weight in arguments, but I am wondering if we have any precedents.

If not, I would suggest that the Colts have the same chance of winning the SB if they play starters or if they rest them, barring the fluke injury. They will get a first-round bye, so fatigue should not be a huge issue.

(Still, I wouldn't chance the fluke injury, but it's worth trying to figure out how much of a chance an injury is.)

16
by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 2:01pm

Andrew:

My question wasn't whether someone might be a keen enough fan to know those SB winners, but whether we really care all that much one versus another.

I guess it's akin to my Red Sox '04 thoughts: before winning the WS, the Red Sox enjoyed a national mystique. Now, the Red Sox are the Twins -- win the WS once in a while, but who cares (other than those in New England)?

17
by Kevo (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 2:02pm

I can't think of a case where a player got injured from playing a meaningless game, but I recall the Broncos coming out flat in playoff games because they were a bit rusty from Mike Shanahan having rested them in the last couple weeks of the season.

18
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 2:03pm

FOXsports.com is reporting that the Lions just fired Mariucci. So instead of Friday, they waited until Monday? Did they need that much time?

T.

19
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 2:07pm

Purds:

You're falling into the same trap that King is: assuming that Manning (or TO, etc.) are the only players on the team, and only season-ending injuries matter.

Last year's Eagles had several injuries before those last two games. Other than TO, they were all healed by the start of the postseason. Three weeks' rest will do that. If they had played those last weeks, they wouldn't've been as healthy.

If you play your starters, someone will get hurt. It'll happen. It always does. And if not, someone won't heal an injury they had a week before. And you'll go into the playoffs more banged up than you have to.

Anyway, let me put it a different way: while some people might not remember the Super Bowl winners from a given year, no one would remember the 2005 Colts as anything but the butt of a joke if they went undefeated in the regular season and lost in the playoffs. You have to win the Super Bowl. Have to. That means you have to rest your starters. If you go undefeated, thank the backups.

20
by Bobby Mozitis (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 2:12pm

Am I the only person who ultimately thinks it is going to be the owner's decision whether or not to go for the undefeated season?

21
by MadPenguin (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 2:13pm

I disagree with jumping ny over seattle. If your kicker misses fgs, your kicker misses fgs. this is still karma over manning going to ny as a wah scenarion.

oh and go steelers. Please beat the colts tonight. Please misplace tommy in the front office in the offseason. And if the bus retires please have him sign on as the color commentator.

thanks.

22
by Another Craig B (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 2:18pm

There's something wrong with the egg nog latte, Seattle. I've had three at three different Starbucks in the past week or so, and the best I can come up with is that the egg nog tastes a bit, well, metallic. Not sure why, but there's a bad taste to the stuff. I've pretty much stopped trying them.

Does Peter King have enough sense to come inside out of the rain? Jeebus. "I thought that this product tasted really bad, so I tried it a few more times to make sure. Yes, indeed, it tastes bad. I thought I would inform the company of this, so I posted a note on Sports Illustrated's website." Whole new *vistas* of stupidity.

As for Tarrant in #18, presumably they didn't want to give Dick Jauron the extra time to prepare. Matt Millen's trying to lose games go he can move up in the draft, enabling him to overpay a rookie wide receiver by the maximum possible amount.

23
by Smeghead (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 2:25pm

Here are the top two Extra Points items on FO as of Monday morning:

MMQB: Please, Dungy, Don’t Sit Manning
Leftwich Out with Broken Ankle

Well-turned, old chaps.

24
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 2:28pm

On the Colts resting their starters, I think the decision is an easy one for Dungy. If he had already won the Super Bowl then, I think the decision gets more intriguing. After you've won it once you can start thinking about 'history'.

25
by Noble (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 2:31pm

Indy still has to win four more games before they can think about their 'Legendary' status. Besides. It's all moot. The Steelers are going to clobber the Colts. :P

26
by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 2:40pm

Maw:

I think you've got it exactly. I wouldn't even THINK about going for an undefeated season at the risk of anything unless I had already won one. For example, I would not fault the Patriots for trying for an undefeated season if they were in that position now.

Pat:

I like your points, especially about non-season-ending injuries. I still say the Colts should rest the guys, but I am just wondering if the answer isn't less obvious than we're making it out to be. Perhaps not.

27
by dryheat (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 2:42pm

Yes, there is a reason people mention that Dolphins team every year, because they're the sole team to go undefeated. Once somebody else does it, we'll (hopefully) stop mentioning them every year.

People used to mention the chase for 61 home runs every year too, until it got bested three times. Or 40/40. Or 50 goals in 50 games.

28
by ChicagoScott (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 3:07pm

Good point by Bobby #20-- Jim Irsay really wants this Colts team to make NFL history. A couple of years ago, I read an article in which he stated that wanted these Colts to be the first NFL team to win 3 straight Super Bowls. Obviously, he was way out over his skis on that one because you've got to win 1 Super Bowl first.

As a Colts fan, I hope they keep taking it one game at a time & play hard to win every game. A Super Bowl victory would be wonderful; a 19-0 season would be more than I've ever hoped for.

By the way, Peter King made an error in his article. The Colts lost AT Denver 33-14 last year before the home playoff win. I should know...I was at both games. Unfortunately, I got to my seat 5 minutes late in Denver & missed the only 3 snaps taken by Manning.

29
by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 3:32pm

Some made up numbers:

Assume the Colts are 13-0 and have clinched HFA in two weeks. Asssume they are so good that, when they play their starters, they have an 80% chance of winning any game against anyone. Also assume that if they rest their starters for the final three games, they will have a 50% chance of winning those games and a 90% chance of winning their playoff games. I've skewed these numbers to be a little extreme to make a point.

Rest your starters:
9% chance of going 19-0, but 73% chance of winning the SB.

Don't rest your starters:
26% chance of going 19-0, but only a 51% chance of winning the SB.

Do you risk 50-50 odds on the Superbowl to have a 1 in 4 chance of making history, or do you settle for a 1 in 10 chance of making history in order to have a 3 in 4 chance of getting a title that will bring short term fame but be forgotten in five years? How risk averse are you?

Dungy is apparently risk averse, but we knew that.

30
by doktarr (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 3:38pm

Pat -

You make a good point about all the healed injuries. But again, we're not talking about scads of games here. Indy is very interested in setting themselves up to play the Broncos AT HOME in the AFC title game, and righfully so. If Denver manages to beat the Chiefs in KC, their next two games are pretty soft. It's not hard to imagine the Broncos getting to 12-2. This means that the Colts might not clinch HFA until they're 14-0.

Now, the week 17 game (hosting Arizona) could be a win with the starters playing two series. So we're potentially talking about ONE game here - at Seattle in week 16, a potential Super Bowl preview.

Frankly, all of this talk is way premature anyway. Let's see what Denver does, and let's watch Indy beat the Steelers, Jaguars, and Chargers before we worry about this.

31
by bobman (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 3:43pm

If Rothlisburger picks his nose as the play clock ticks to 10 second tonight, we'll all know he's read MMQB.

Um... at least I'll HOPE he's read MMQB. if not, it's just plain icky.

32
by Wicked (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 4:22pm

39 THINGS I THINK I THINK

ARRRGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

33
by Vlad (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 4:47pm

Ryan Anderson is a really tall lefty who used to pitch in the Mariners' system. Maybe that's the guy you were thinking about?

34
by Go For It (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 4:56pm

While I understand the sentiment of the goal is to win the Super Bowl, I've never been a fan of resting starters. The goal of the game is to win. Say they clinch HFA with two games left, then rest the starters. This gives then FOUR weeks without much pt. Thats pretty significant. Worst case scenario in my mind is resting the starters, losing to Seattle, then having Manning throw a couple bad picks, James fumble, maybe Harrison and Wayne drop a few key catches. The Colts then lose in the first round, with a factor being the rust that the players had from the time off. So not only did they throw away a potential chance at immortality, but they also threw away the Super Bowl. If I'm Dungy I'm playing the starters till I feel we're at least comfortably ahead, or maybe rotate the starters through out the game.

35
by Brian (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 5:10pm

That article was ridiculous. I honestly find it hard to believe that Dungy even answered this question given his responses to questions like this over the past couple weeks. And implying that Manning makes that much difference is insane. Sorgi scored 2 TDs against Denver last year while he still had SOME of their weapons playing with him. This talk is WAY premature. I would guess if it comes to that his decision would also have something to do with the injury report. Right now there aren't too many people on it, but if that time comes there could be more.

36
by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 5:12pm

Kevo #17:

"I recall the Broncos coming out flat in playoff games because they were a bit rusty from Mike Shanahan having rested them in the last couple weeks of the season."

That is just a whiny excuse for losing in an upset.

Every team with a first round bye gets to rest their starters and in 39 years, only 6 teams have made it out of wild card weekend to participate in the Superbowl, while every Super Bowl has featured at least one and usually 2 #1 or #2 seeds. if being "rusty" vs. "fresh" were so important, more Super Bowl's would feature the #3, 4, 5, and 6 seeds.

In reality, the 1996 Broncos, to whom you refer, rested some of their starters in Weeks 15 and 17, but played them in Week 16 (just for the opportunity to stomp the Raiders into the mud). Most also took at least a few snaps in Weeks 15 and 17.

And of course, on a team of 53 players, with at least 25 required for a lot of plays (regular starters plus a 2nd Tight End, 3rd Wideout, and Nickle Cornerback), you can only rest perhaps half a dozen to a dozen or so before you run into major depth issues. To truly rest all 22 starters would mean that you'd have 22 players playing, a kicker, punter, and long snapper, and just 6 substitutes.

Philadelphia and Tampa Bay both played their scrubs in Week 17 of 2001, and then the next week came out with their starters in the Wild Card. The Eagles won both games. Its difficult to believe that resting their starters somehow affected Tampa Bay more than Philadelphia, or that if Tampa had played their starters in Week 17 they would have won the Wild Card game (which they lost by a much larger margin than the scrubs game one week earlier).

Denver played starters vs. scrubs in 2004 with the Colts in Week 17. They won that game, and were completely thrashed by the Colts in the Wild Card the next week. The "lack of rust" did nothing for Denver.

37
by Tim (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 5:18pm

The funny thing about the debate to rest starters is that you can only do maybe 4 or 5 per side of the ball. The teams only dress what 45 players a game (You have to pay 53 so why not dress them all?) You couldn't just sit all your starters, so you have to pick and choose. Most people sit their QB, WRs, and RBs, but if you lost a linemen or two your superbowl dreams could go up in smoke just as easily.

38
by jds (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 5:20pm

I think you've got to play the starters every week, but after clinching HFA (which is essential for the Colts), treat the games like exhibition games - give the starters some work and then rotate them out. There is a lot to be said for keeping things consistent, and remembering what it is like to be hit. With HFA you are going to have a bye week anyway - you don't need two or three or more bye weeks. The players need to keep on the routine of practice reps and film study as if they are playing for real for the next week, keep the pre-game warm-up the same, and then go out and make contact at game speed. Then simply, don't play the second half. The potential rust problem (see #34, and Denver Broncos) is real.

39
by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 5:20pm

Go For It #34:

How do you measure "rust"?

Did "rust" affect the Eagles last year when they thrashed the Vikings in the Divisionals after 4 weeks of rest?

Was "rust" to blame in Pittsburgh's poor showing in the 2004 playoffs after two weeks of rest, or was it more due to a continuing trend of bad decisions by Roethelisberger that started weeks earlier in the season? How come then Pittsburgh lost in 2001 in the playoffs, when they clinched home field advantage with two weeks left yet continued to play starters?

Is "rust" to blame for season opener losses, since they starters haven't played much in 8 months? How then does anyone manage to win the opener? Do players have it after coming back from an injury and obviously not playing for several weeks?

What is this "rust" anyway?

40
by dryheat (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 5:22pm

#34, I appreciate your optimism. For me, the worst case scenario is Edge James blowing his ACL in a meaningless week 17 game. I think that's a much worse case than some starters being rusty.

Assuming they practice all week, are starters truly going to be rusty if they only play a quarter or so in the last two games?

41
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 5:24pm

Re 34/39: There was a nice article on "rust" last year that looked at the overall affect of resting starters. The conclusion was it doesn't matter that much. Overall teams don't fare any better or worse whether or not they rest starters, and the increased risk of an injury suggests resting starters is the better strategy.

42
by Jon T. (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 5:43pm

You are all forgetting the bigger issue: What if the Colts rest Manning and Jim Sorgi plays a great game? In that case do the Colts stick with Sorgi and ride the hot hand? You laugh, but Wade Phillips in his all knowing-ness (that's a word right?) did that to Doug Flutie in favor of Rob Johnson so there is a precedent.

43
by Brian (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 6:05pm

I would be interested to see Sorgi play with all the starters and see how he fares. It would take Manning getting injured for this to happen, so it's totally not worth it, but it would be interesting. I bet the drop-off wouldn't be nearly as steep as all the talking heads like to think. It's a great team with lots of great players, Manning isn't god. He's very good (much better than Sorgi), but I bet the loss of Saturday or Edge hurts the team more.

44
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 6:18pm

Tim (#45):

Typically you'll pretty much invert the entire depth chart if you're trying to rest starters. It ends up being more than just a few players on either side. You inactivate a whole slew of players which allows you to use a bunch of players that you don't normally dress for the game.

If you take a look at the last game of the year where the Eagles played the Bengals, very few starters actually played that game, and those that did had a minimal role.

The other thing you can do, of course, is call a simpler, less risky game. No blitzes. Zone coverage. No going for it on 4th-and-1.

If you look at the Denver game last year where Indy mainly rested starters, there it looks more like what you're saying, but Indy treated that more like a preseason game than a "get me past this game, please" game, possibly because they wanted to see how certain people matched up against Denver just in case.

Interesting question is whether or not they'll do the same versus Seattle, since they very well could face Seattle in the Super Bowl if they get there.

45
by Bright Blue Shorts (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 6:35pm

Ref: 9 "Scramble Indy’s season around - would you be so impressed if Indy’s season finished with Houston-San Francisco-Arizona-Houston? Going undefeated has a lot more to do with luck of scheduling than team strength."

We might not be impressed now, but in a few years time people would be. Few (if any) remember that the '72 Fins had one of the easiest schedules of all time. They only played 2 games in the regular season against teams with winning records. (Slightly skewed because they inflicted defeats on 8 other teams, but still forgotten).

As for the Colts sitting their starters, I think they'll do what they did last year in week 17. Play Manning (& the others) for a couple of quarters just to keep them from getting complacent or rusty.

BBS :-)

46
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 6:40pm

That's the thing, though. The Colts do not have an easy remaining schedule. If you assume you're talking about 2 games (Arizona and Seattle), the Seattle game probably wouldn't be worth the effort.

And here's the random question - do we actually know that the 72 Fins didn't do the same thing? Got me. Wasn't alive then.

47
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 6:45pm

BBS: Manning only played one series in the last game of last year, other starters played a little longer, but hardly any lasted past the first quarter.

48
by Becephalus (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 6:50pm

Well I am also for the big treat it like a preseason game strategy. Maybe thats because Super-Bowls just do not impress me. Someone wins one every year after all.

49
by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 6:50pm

Brian:

That's an unrealistic reach, that the loss of Edge would hurt more than the loss of Manning. Yes, losing Edge would hurt, but losing the reigning MVP, the only QB the team has known in 5 years (other than in meaningless games), the guy who calls multiple plays at the line? Insert any name there (Manning, Brady, etc.), and you have a deeper problem than losing Edge.

50
by zach (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 7:01pm

Am I the only one who remembers Tony Dungy criticizing Andy Reid for resting his starters at the end of last year? Or am I the only one who has somehow deluded himself into thinking that happened?

51
by FastEddy (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 7:06pm

Offensive Player of the Week: Ryan Fitzpatrick and Kyle Johnson. Are you kidding me??? Did he somehow miss the SD/WAS game where LT ran 184 yards and single handedly won the game?

Sometimes LT plays just great and not awesome, but this week he was out of this world. His blocking got him a few yards over the line and then he just kept shifting so often and so fast that he couldn't be touched. Two critical long TDs to get them into OT and then to win. Absolutely one of the finest games I've ever seen by an RB. Marty was raving about LT after the game. And he doesn't get a mention? A guy gets one good block and he's the POW?

Geez King, you've really outdone yourself this time.

52
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 7:16pm

Re 50: I think every coach in the league has complained about some other team resting it starters whan that team is playing a team the coach is competing with for a playoff spot. I don't recall Dungy doing it last year, however.

53
by chris (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 7:30pm

Does anyone know what choices the colts have been making if the win the coin toss? the ball or defer?

54
by joel in providence (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 7:45pm

c'mon dungy et al.... go for 16-0. if i were a colts fan, i'd take a hypothetical 16-0 over a hypothetical super bowl victory.

55
by miles (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 7:56pm

#54: I have to disagree. I think for a Colts fan, the nightmare scenario would be going 16-0 and then losing in the playoffs.After all the flak Indy caught last year over Manning setting the touchdown record and then choking against the Patriots, a perfect regular season followed by a playoff loss would set a tsunami of criticism in motion towards the team.Talk shows from coast to coast would be taking shots at the Colts for notching victories against teams like the Texans, Browns, and 49ers, and then not being able to win when it counted. Bill Simmons would probably devote an entire column to piling it on. The team might never recover from a blow like that.

56
by Adam (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 8:06pm

Jim Sorgi's got it covered, no problem.

57
by Maltodextrin (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 9:19pm

I was there when they made that announcement at Phoenix airport! That was for my flight. Needless to say I didn't volunteer to spend two days in Phoenix and miss two days of work.

58
by Vince (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 9:23pm

I'm going to make a baseball analogy. I live in Seattle, and I'm a Mariners fan. In 2001, the team won 116 games, then lost in the playoffs to the Yankees.

Some said this playoff loss meant the regular season didn't matter, or it was wasted. Well... it did matter, and it was important by itself. For six months, I checked the scores and said "Hey! They won AGAIN!" I mean, nearly EVERY DAY. Then they had a bad week against New York. So that one week somehow eradicates the prior six months?

Bull. It was real. It happened. It mattered. I know. I was there.

So I say, Colts, shoot for 16-0, critics and consequences be damned.

59
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 9:27pm

"11. Jacksonville (8-3). I'm in the minority. I think not only is David Garrard not going to blow the season for Jacksonville, he's going to play well and finish the run to the fifth seed in the AFC playoffs while Byron Leftwich recuperates from the broken bone in his ankle."

How exactly is that the minority view? Has anyone expressed any other opinion yet? I guess I'll also be in the minority, and say that the Colts are better than the Texans this year.

I'm also going to go out on a limb, and say that the 85 Bears wouldn't have lost to the 05 Browns. Just sayin'.

60
by TomC (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 11:06pm

Trogdor - Be careful: PK wasn't comparing the '85 and '05 Bears teams, just the defenses. And in the first half of the '85 season, there were a number of games in which the D was less than impressive and was bailed out by an offense that was actually capable of scoring quickly through the air. Just two examples: 1) On opening day, they let Tampa (who would end up finishing 2-14) score 28 in the first half(!) before Gary Fencik knocked James Wilder out of the game and the Bears scored the next 21 unanswered; 2) Tommy Kramer passed for 436 yards against them in a game that was lost until an injured McMahon talked Ditka into letting him in the game and promptly threw three long TD passes in the space of seven minutes. I don't think we'll be getting that out of Orton or Grossman.

61
by Shalimar (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 1:18am

Please, please, please Coach Dungy don't rest the starters if you still have a chance for a perfect season. I have developed an irrational hatred of the '72 Dolphins. They take way too much pleasure in the failure of others.

62
by Gary (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 3:03am

#61 makes an excellent point. They are really annoying.

I'm rooting for the Colts for the same reason that I root for whatever horse might win the Triple Crown. So we don't have to hear about it anymore.

63
by Jim Johnson (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 4:00am

You guys have all anointed the Colts as the super bowl winners. There is still a lot of football left. The Colts have choked in the recent past if memory serves. Why or who is to say they wouldn’t again.

64
by FastEddy (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 5:13am

#63, I certainly won't anoint the Colts just yet. But while they've choked in the past, they may have learned something along the way. For example, I no longer see Manning doing his chicken dance at the line. He's still a bit annoying with his audibles and pointing and stuff, but nowhere near as bad as he used to be.

Also, quite clearly Manning isn't trying to set any records, for TDs or otherwise. He's distributing the ball all around and giving it to James a fair amount, including the goal line. And certainly the D has improved over last year.

Not a mortal lock but they sure do look good. Certainly so do the Broncos, San Diego at times, and Cincy in the AFC. And even Chicago of the NFC might be able to stop them with their D.

But right now in Vegas, after their humiliation of the Steelers, I'd guess that the odds of them winning the Supe are close to even money.

65
by james (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 6:10am

belichek and Fisher both stopped the greatest show on turf indoors in sb's

Indy is capable of meeting the same fate. They haven't faced a defense that can give them special treatment yet. In the AFC doesn't look like anyone is capable, except jax.

However, in the NFC there a few defenses adept at killing opposing teams offensive game plans. Depends on if they can get there.

66
by Moe (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 6:47am

If I was Jim Sorgi I would start studying Seattle and Arizona game film in my spare time.

67
by adwred (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 11:27am

King offers this stunning statistic:

"Sitting Manning: 19-point loss at Denver.

Playing Manning: 25-point home win over Denver."

Damn I knew Peyton was good, but if he can control the site the game is played at, this guy is a God.

68
by dryheat (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 1:39pm

I'll take the Broncos plus 25 even if they play in Archie Mannings backyard. I hate hyperbole, especially when coming from a 450 lb reporter who specializes in girls' high school sports while drinking 109 lattes daily.

Seriously, Manning's worth 44 points?