Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

05 Oct 2005

Colts Enter Soft Spot of Schedule

This relatively normal look at the first quarter of the Colts' season ends with the following: "The Colts find themselves in the comparatively soft part of their schedule. Their next five opponents consist of the 49ers, St. Louis (2-2), Houston twice (0-3) and New England (2-2). The next team on the schedule with a winning record is Cincinnati (4-0)." I think people may be slightly overreacting to the Patriots' struggles.

Posted by: Ned Macey on 05 Oct 2005

31 comments, Last at 06 Oct 2005, 7:53pm by Drew


by MCS (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 2:17pm

Insert Rodney Harrison respect joke here.

by charles (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 2:18pm

rodney harrison gets hurt and two weeks later the disrespect already starts.

by guss scott (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 2:20pm

I also will not stand for this disrespect.

by Darth Goofy (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 2:36pm

I knew when I read that in the Indianapolis Star that there were going to be comments made about it. I disagree with the reporter and think that NE will not be a cupcake win. However, the other games should help bolster the Colt's W/L record.

by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 2:55pm

"I disagree with the reporter and think that NE will not be a cupcake win."

Disagree with what? The reporter never says NE will be easy. He makes reference to the group of games being comparatively easier, but that's it.

by Drew (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 2:56pm

Well, he did say "comparatively soft." The 49ers and Texans(x2) really should be 3 cupcake wins. The Rams are nothing special. Even if the Patriots are better than their record (I think they are), that's still a pretty friendly patch of schedule by NFL standards, particularly for a division winner from last season.

by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 3:01pm

As cops say, 'You can't pick your vic." The NFL made up the schedules (not the ADs of some Division I football teams) and the Colts get to play the teams they get to play.

Just don't forget that Indy must play the Stillers, New England and Philadelphia (in the Super Bowl).

by Corey (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 3:01pm

So the Ravens-Jags-Browns-Titans was the tough part of the schedule?


by B (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 3:02pm

Didn't they enter the soft part of thier schedule last week? If you take NE off the end and add Tenn, it becomes an easy 5 weeks followed with a bye before they face the Patriots.

by Purds (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 3:35pm

The Colts clearly have been blessed with an easy schedule this year, as the Pats had last year. In other words, the AFC South gets to play each and every one of those stellar teams in the NFC West this year, just as the AFC East enjoyed that schedule last year.

As a Colt fan, I'll take it.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 4:41pm

I was beaten to it, but isn't it a little funny that the Colts get out of a stretch of Cleveland, Baltimore, Jacksonville, Tennessee, and THEN are entering a soft spot?

Is anything in the NFL more overrated than the Indy defense right now? I mean, Jacksonville is the best offense they've faced so far this season. Jacksonville, who hasn't scored 30 points in over 5 years. I remember when KC's defense had "turned it around", too... and then they played a real offense.

by bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 4:53pm

I'm with Purds. As I pointed out in the Week-5 roundup thread, the Colts soft patch (excluding the Pats--their record notwithstanding) makes up for last season's 4 games in 17-days mini- marathon.
This is the kind of stretch that ideally helps backups get some reps should they be needed, and keeps the first stringers fresher for the really tough games in the post season. With Edge getting more carries than is healthy, I WANT him to rest a bit. Nobody wants to pay him the big free-agent bucks next year if his tires are flat. (oh hey, wait just a minute, maybe we can keep thim then!)
As a wiser Colts fan already said, I'll take it.

by Purds (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 5:38pm


You're right, and you're wrong! :)

You're right: The Colts D is nowhere near as good as it looks in terms of points allowed. They still need to face a multi-faceted offense before we know if they are anything above average.

You're wrong: No one is out there annointing them as a great defense, the second coming of the '85 Bears. They can't be overrated if no one rates them very high. However, I do think they're better than last year -- much better. Sanders and Doss healthy at the same time? Didn't happen last year. Simon adding depth up front? Didn't have that last year. Jackson adding depth at CB? Didn't have that last year. Who did the Colts lose of importance on the defensive side in the offseason? ... I can't think of anyone either.

But, IF, and that's a big IF, IF they are a good defense, then we wouldn't expect them to play much better than they have so far. So, it's possible that they are good, but we just don't know yet.

by bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 6:20pm

Ouch, two Colt fans on-line at the same time, tag-teaming you.
As they say about the schedule ("you can only play who is on your sked..."), so the Colts D has been super--so far. Will it pan out this way after 17 weeks... probably not, but maybe. Absolutely the first week featured a particularly weak offense, though the usually "soft" run D did a nice job on Jamal Lewis. Unfortunnately, everyone else seems to as well since then. Then came Leftwich and Freddie Taylor and the big WRs and the papers said "now they get tested." What happened? pop, fizzle, splat. Then the Superbowl winning QB of the Browns and Braylon Edwards and company, who had been doing very well up to that point. (Either Simms or Esiason commented that he is the "perfect QB for the Browns system" which is not exactly the highest praise, but implies some success will ensue.) NOW they get tested, right? Wrong.
Finally, it was former MVP McNair, his really tall and underrated WRs, and a tailback who has AVERAGED about 125 yards vs the Colts in the past and over 5 per carry. Surely these guys will put the Colts D to the test, in their own home stadium. Leading rusher that game for the Titans was McNair with 40 yards. I call it pretty good success.
The verdict? Nobody knows nothing especially when they say "Now they'll be tested." Have they been tested? Maybe, although it does not appear to be the case. The only REAL test right now would be the Giants (not gonna happen until the SB and face it, just not gonna happen this year), Atlanta's fierce multi-headed running attack, or the Chargers. Even Pitt and NE don't concern me and if the Colts bottle them up there will be plenty of excuses in the media (Bettis is injured, no Plex Burris anymore, Corey Dillon just isn't the same...)
FWIW, I suspect they have been tested and came through okay--they have a tendency to bottle up runners for 50 yards on 20 runs, and then allow three 15 yarders. That has diminshed this season, but not enough. The yardage numbers suffer because teams often go four downs on them (say 2-4 times a game)--hey, that's 33% extra they have to defend on those series, so of course more yardage will be gained against them! and because when they have had huge leads, they have allowed a couple long drives at the ends of games. That does not make them bad. It does worry me about their "full-game discipline" and they can't let up like that vs the good teams. But so far, so good.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 6:27pm

The game against Tenn was impressive, but calling Dilfer a "superbowl winning QB" is like calling Antoine Smith a "Superbowl winning RB" Sure they have the rings, but they weren't really an integral part of thier team's success.

by OMO (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 6:59pm

Of course the Colts defense is not as good as 6.5 points per game, anyone who suggests that, is nuts.

Part of that is schedule. Part of that is horrible, horrible mistakes and play calling by their opponents. Part of that is just 100% dumb luck...but bottom line:

If you would have gone up to Tony Dungy and said..."if after week 4 you will have allowed 6.5 pts per game" you wouldn't be able to wipe the smile off his face with a belt sander.

by djcolts (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 7:47pm

We don't really know how good the Colts D is compared to other NFL defenses. No one knows how they'd fare against "elite" offenses (they'd probably struggle). But, there is straightforward evidence that it is better than last year's D. Last year, the Colts played Baltimore, Jacksonville and Tennessee 5 times (3 of those games at home) - and gave up 95 total points in those games. That's 19 points a game. This season - they've given up 6.7 points per game against Baltimore, Jacksonville and Tennessee (only 1 of those games at home).

by Vern (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 9:10pm

An easy schedule may let you rack up wins and get you the number 1 seed, but as I think Steelers and Eagles fans can tell you, it's better not to get too used to weak teams when it comes to winning the games that matter.

As a Pats fan, I welcome a trip to the RCA Dome. It will be nice to remind folks that beating the Colts has a lot less to do with the snow and cold, and more to do with Manning's uncanny ability to choke in big games. Hell, we might not even make it to the dome if SD or Pittsburgh or someone with a decent D ends up as the #4 seed and knocks off the Colts first.

by djcolts (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 9:39pm

The Colts play @NE, Pitt, SD, @Cincy, @Jax in the last 9 games of their season. If they fail in the playoffs, it will have nothing to do with not being ready because of playing cupcakes, but because they aren't good enough as a team.

by Purds (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 10:58pm

Nice job setting the bait, Vern. Think anyone will bite?

by Drew (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 12:04pm

There's still way too much season left to start talking about playoff matchups. Even as a Colt fan, I'd say that annointing them the AFC #1 seed is about 12 weeks premature. It's anti-disrespect. I'm focusing all my attention on the 49er juggernaut we have to face this week.

by B (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 12:18pm

Yea, it'll be sweet watching Manning and Harrison try to out-deul Montana and Rice. Err, I mean Young and Rice. Err, Garcia and TO? No, Smith and, ummmm, Brandon Lloyd?

by Lionel (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 12:46pm

"As a Pats fan, I welcome a trip to the RCA Dome."

As a Chargers' fan, I welcome any trip to Gillette. To rub Brady's face in the turd of a team he now has is not only enjoyable, but a tribute to how a paper tiger now tries to win games in the AFC.

In the eternal battle of Brady vs. Manning, all I know is that Brady can't beat Brees.

by Drew (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 12:57pm

Now we're cooking.

by OMO (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 1:30pm

...with gas

by B (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 1:40pm

I'm sure Marty is just as capable of losing a playoff game in New England as he is in San Deigo, Denver, Cleveland, etc.

by stan (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 2:15pm


Using the standard for determining what constitutes a big game as that standard is applied to Manning, no player or team in history has ever won a big game (not even Tom Brady -- the greatest human being to walk on water in the last 2000 years). Because the only games that are ever considered "big" are the ones that are lost. Games that are considered "big" before they are played are immediately stricken from the list, if Manning's team wins.

Some might view this kind of historical revisionism to be a bit dishonest. But for true believers of the Hate-Peyton cult, it is gospel.

by B (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 4:37pm

I thought a big game was "a game where a trophy* is awarded to the winner" In the NFL, that would be AFC/NFC championships & the superbowl.
*In this context, trophy can also mean a pennant or a championship banner.

by Drew (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 5:59pm

a big game was “a game where a trophy* is awarded to the winner�

Those absolutely are big games, but I wouldn't say that's all that qualifies. Any game where losing means the end of your season is a big game. A game against another top team, or a traditional rival, could be a big game. Some might say that any Monday Night Football game is a big game, from the standpoint of being on the national stage. The beauty of the NFL (to me anyway) is that many of the games are big, because there are so few of them that they are all important.

by B (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 6:21pm

Must be a philosophical thing, but I feel there's only a few big games a year, they're the ones that people remember. I agree that one of the best things of the NFL is there are so many important or critical games, but to me they're not all big games.

by Drew (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 7:53pm

Yeah, we must just have a different opinion of what "big" means. I see big, important, and critical as being basically interchangable terms -- less dependent on how memorable the game is after the fact as how important it is perceived to be beforehand. I do see where you're coming from, but I still maintain that any playoff game (win or go home) is big.

This mostly seems like a non-argument, but I need to kill time at work.