In 2006, the issue was "Will the Colts miss Edge James?" Smart analysts knew that running backs are largely fungible in the NFL, and the Colts parted with Edge at precisely the right moment. Not so smart guys said the Colts wouldn't win the South.
In 2007, the issue was "Will the Colts miss Cato June, Dom Rhodes, and Jason David?". The not smart guys didn't understand the Colts' system at all and figured there was no way they could replace a linebacker, a corner, and a backup runner. They were wrong, as the 2007 team was one of the best in recent memory until a barrage of injuries buried them.
2008 was tricky. There were two issues under consideration, and I can't remember if we ever decided which was the better test. The first issue was "Will injuries to Manning, Harrison, Freeney and Sanders derail the Colts". The analysts who said, "Yes! The Colts are done!" had the right issue, but the wrong players. Injuries did kill the '08 Colts, as we all know, but they missed completely on the players who were hurt. In the end, the injuries to Lilja, Saturday, Ugoh, Addai, Marlin Jackson, and Gary Brackett were far more serious. Manning got off to a sluggish start, but the horrible line play had as much to do with that as anything. In the end, he won the MVP. Freeney made the Pro Bowl. The Zombie was in and out all season (though not because of his preseason injury). Of all the preseason questions, only Harrison's injury proved significant, and even then only in the sense that he was never the same player again, though he showed up almost every week. So, the analysts that predicted doom had the right idea, but not for the reasons they expected, and not nearly to the extent they described.
The other big issue in '08 was the Jacksonville Jaguars. Some clowns felt that Jerry Porter and Troy Williamson were going to elevate the Jags to a new plane of existence. Instead, they just lit the match that set the dumpster ablaze, combining for 16 catches between them (my favorite 2008 stat).
So now, 2009 is bearing down upon us. What will this year's Football IQ test be? It's early still, but for now I'm leaning toward the Colts 'coaching instability'. A few weeks back, I think we were all concerned about this. I for one said, that if Moore and Mudd were to leave, it wouldn't be a 'good thing'. Now that they are both confirmed as coming back and in as of yet undetermined but significant roles, I think this is a major non issue. Still, many predict doom for the Horse based solely on this.
I'm also willing to consider "the loss of Marvin Harrison" as a litmus test. Listen, the Horse lost Harrison last year while he was still playing. They over came him being on the field with limited productivity; they'll overcome him not being on the field at all much more easily.
Ultimately, it may come down to a simple "the Colts window has closed" idea, which we know is rubbish because they sport one of the youngest rosters in football.
The test doesn't have to involve the Colts, but as of yet no ridiculous story lines have developed in any of the other relevant cities (defined as AFC South teams or New England). Possibly the "Fred Taylor and Joey Galloway lead the Pats to glory" line will get more play. I'd consider that for sure.
I did some more work on the "Best Games List", expanding on the 4th Quarter list entries to fit the format. There are still some holes to fill, so feel free to go look up some of those old school games.
Speaking of old school, spend some time messing around with this cool page on Colts.com. It's full of classic radio calls dating back to 1994. I wish they could be embedded, because I would love to match them up with the writeups we did.
TSN looks at tons of top 20 lists. 18 is #1. Well, they got that right at least. It's interesting that Wayne is 11th on this list after being 42nd on the Fox list. Oehser breaks them all down.
Stat of the day about my Reds:
THE MOST AMAZING thing of all right now about the Reds is that they were 4-4 over their last eight games. Why amazing? They have hit .204 in those eight games and scored 27 runs, 3.38 per game.
How can this be? The pitching staff has a 2.48 ERA over those eight games and the starters have a 1.86 ERA.
That was BEFORE last night's game when they were limited to 1 run on 3 hits and a walk by a rookie pitcher with an ERA over 7. I've been saying it all season...this team can't hit. Willy Taveras...0 for his last 28 and just 7 for his last 76 (yeah kids. That's an .092). His OB% is down to .288.
He hit lead off last night. Oh, Dusty.
Someone has it all figured out. So good...it should have been mine!