|Feist Facts: Online Casino News Nov. 1, 2005|
by Jim Feist
So, are the Colts going to run the table? Of course not. Not since 1972 has a team run the slate perfect in the NFL. Since then, parity and the salary cap have leveled the playing field, and schedules are longer, all of which makes it that much harder to go undefeated. In fact, that 1972 Miami Dolphins 17-0 team was the only club in the long history of the NFL to run the table during regular and postseason play. Several teams before that came close, but always got tripped up at least once.
There have been some memorable close calls. The 1962 Green Bay Packers enjoyed a 10-0 start on the way to a 13-1 season, ending in a 16-7 win in the championship game over the NY Giants as one of Vince Lombardi’s best teams. They came close to running the table, except for a surprising Thanksgiving Day loss to Detroit, 26-14 (trailing 26-0 to the fired up Lions). The 1984 San Francisco 49ers started 6-0 before a 20-17 home loss to the Steelers. As things turned out, that was their only hiccup in an 18-1 season, destroying Miami in the Super Bowl.
The 1985 Bears had a powerhouse team behind defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan’s 46-defense, which the Baltimore Ravens have been utilizing this season. That team held 11 opponents to 10 points or less and started 12-0. They looked unstoppable, until a famous Monday night game at Miami. With members of the 1972 Dolphins present, Dan Marino passed over the 46-defense as the Dolphins won 38-24 as a +3 dog. The Bears finished 18-1 with playoff victories of 21-0, 24-0 and 46-10!
The only recent run was in 1998 when the defending champion Denver Broncos started 13-0. In the middle of the season a prop bet in Las Vegas was posted, “Will the Broncos run the table?” QB John Elway and company gave it a go, but they ended up losing consecutive road games at the Giants (20-16) and at Miami (31-21) before finishing 17-2 with another Super Bowl title.
Which brings us to the 2005 Colts and their sizzling 7-0 SU, 5-2 ATS mark. Indy is beating teams by a 27-11 average, including 30-10 on the road where they are 4-0 SU/ATS. However, Indy has taken advantage of a soft schedule, with wins over the Ravens, Browns, Titans, 49ers, Rams and Texans. They were fighting tooth and nail with the Jaguars, at home, before rallying for a 10-3 win as a 9-point favorite.
They appear better defensively, however one potential soft spot that stands out is run defense. Tony Dungy builds his defenses around speed, preferring a fast secondary in his Cover 2 schemes and quick linebackers and defensive ends who can string out a sweep and get pressure on the quarterback. However, more speed means less bulk, and Indy still has an undersized defensive line, which has been a problem in each of the last two years. A year ago, Indy was 24th in the NFL against the run, allowing 4.6 yards per carry. In 2003 they were 20th overall, and allowed 4.5 ypc. In Dungy’s first season they were 19th, giving up 4.3 yards per carry.
The last two games, teams are finally running right at the Colts. Against the Rams, RB Steven Jackson had 46 rush yards in a 162-yard first quarter for the Rams as they surprised the Colts with a 17-0 lead. The Rams defense is poor, however, and the Colts rallied and won after QB Marc Bulger got injured. Bulger, too, was tearing up the Colts defense before he got hurt. Then, the pitiful Houston Texans used a steady dose of running back Domanick Davis in the first half. He had 85 of his 98 yards and a touchdown before halftime.
True, the Colts came back and not only won but covered. It’s also true that those are two terrible defenses. What will it be like when the Colts face teams with strong defenses that can also run? We’ll find out soon. The Colts play at New England Sunday in a rematch of their playoff meeting. Remember in that game that Pats RB Corey Dillon ran for 144 yards, 6.3 yards per carry. Then, Thanksgiving weekend, the Steelers travel to Indy on Monday night, bringing a physical defense and power running game. The Colts also have to take on the Bengals, Jaguars and Seahawks, two of those on the road, so, they should slip up at some point. Which is going to make the race for home field that much more interesting. The last two years the Colts destroyed the Broncos in home playoff games, then went on the road and lost in the cold at New England. A more important edge than running the table will be if Indy can secure home field.