Ladies and Gentlemen, let me now present the Main Stream Media award for the most annoying team of 2010:
You see, the Colts violated their solemn pact with the media to provide them story lines. Now that the Colts can't go 16-0, everyone has to wring every last drop out of the story possible because in two weeks it'll be gone. The Colts have irritated everyone because they accomplished exactly what they wanted:
They are perfectly set up for a Super Bowl run.
Note the things the MSMers say. First Bob Kravtiz, who chastises the team for playing starters for a quarter yesterday:
Even if this wasn't all about statistics -- and you can still color me dubious, by the way -- why expose Manning, Clark and Wayne to the risk of injury at all? If it didn't make sense to play them one additional series against the Jets, what was the logic behind keeping those players on the field Sunday (and in weather conditions a penguin would find unpalatable)?
Ah, but Master Bob isn't so dense as to miss the other real truth behind the Colts' playing:
Moreover, rust will not be an issue this time. While you might wonder why they played anybody this Sunday -- clearly, I do -- the fact is, they didn't shut it down the way they shut it down completely in 2005.
The offensive starters went more than a half against the Jets and played three series against the Bills. While I question Caldwell's timing, especially in the Jets game, he gets credit for taking a more gradual approach than former coach Tony Dungy did.
For all the madness of the past week or so, the fact remains the Colts have the No. 1 seed and the best opportunity to reach the Super Bowl. When the biggest issue surrounds the health of the kicker -- Adam Vinatieri didn't make this trip -- it's a pretty good sign you're in fine shape heading into the playoffs.
You see, Bob is angry. The Colts are set up perfectly. He can whine all he wants about playing for stats, but at the end of the day, he is forced to admit that this team played enough in the final week to take rust out of the equation. How can any sane person argue that they were just playing for stats while also recognizing that it was a good thing they were playing? Those irritating Colts! How dare they execute their strategy to perfection? How dare they lose to a crappy team who they could well face again in the playoffs just like in 2004? Boo! Boo, Colts, boo!
Kravy isn't the only one who is annoyed. Peter King isn't happy with them either. He calls them weirdos. Drops them to second in his rankings behind San Diego (who also benched starters but won because they have a real back up QB). But at the end of the day, he lists them among the Super Bowl favorites and has to admit:
Now, what I like about the Colts is because they've conserved Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis down the stretch, both should be ready to attack the quarterback in two weeks.
What? You mean having two elite pass rushers healthy is a good thing? So the very thing you don't like from the 'weirdos' is the very thing you do like. Gotcha. I see how that works.
Today, everyone woke up, looked at the bracket and said, "Damn. The Colts are going to the AFC Championship game where they'll play at home." In a couple of weeks they are going to realize that Indy has been among the most beat up clubs all year long, but is finally going to be healthy...just in time for the playoffs. Tim Jennings won't be covering Vincent Jackson on a key third down. Raheem Brock won't be huffing and puffing after Mark Sanchez or Carson Palmer. This team is stacked and loaded for bear.
No matter how bad anyone in the media (or on blogs) wants the Colts' brass to look bad for their choices, the unquestionable truth is this:
Indy is right where they want to be.
They are healthy.
They are at home.
They have a manageable draw in a conference with only one other serious contender.
The Colts and Chargers will likely play for the right to go to the Super Bowl and when that day comes momentum won't matter. Records won't matter. History won't matter. It will make no difference that Billy Volek beat the Redskins and Curtis Painter couldn't beat the Bills.
There won't be any curses or hoodoo deciding the game. It will be about which team is better and which team gets the breaks.
The Colts are going to the Super Bowl.
And the country is already pissed about it.