Who to play…and why

With so much left to be settled in the AFC Playoff picture, it seems ridiculous to try and sort out possible first round playoff opponents for the Colts.  Still, it never hurts to take a peek at what could happen.  My primary resource for this piece will the Footballoutsiders Playoff Odds; a quick glance at said page might help before diving in.  The Odds report gives Indy a 57.8% chance of nailing down the 5 seed, a 40.2% chance of landing 6th, and 2% chance of getting left out of the playoffs.  For simplicity of calculation (and the happiness of my heart), I’m ignoring the 2% chance of not getting in and making the Colts numbers 60/40 between 5/6.

Possible Opponent in Round One:

Denver Broncos:  55.5%
What’s Good About Playing the Broncos-
  This article shows how bad this team really is. They are a smoke and mirrors crew who are really amazingly bad.  Manning has owned Shanahan for a decade. 
What’s Bad-  The weather could be horrible.  The Broncos, especially Shanahan, must desperately want to beat Manning.  The crowd will be desperately into the game.
Bottom Line:  Denver is a bad team with a good record.  The weather is the only thing that could equalize this game.

New York Jets:  22.4%
What’s Good About Playing the Jets-  According to DVOA, the Jets are pretty freaking average.  Indy should be better on offense, and defense.
What’s Not Good-  The wind at the Meadowlands may cause havoc for the only part of our offense that usually works.  Their rushing defense is very strong as well, meaning the Colts will mostly likely HAVE to pass to win.  The Jets have an excellent special teams unit. Which would the NFL want to see: Brett Favre in New York or the Midwest Colts?  I smell conspiracy possibilities.
Bottom Line:  Not awful, but I’d rather not start out there 

Miami Dolphins:  15.7%
What’s Good About the Fish-
  WARM WEATHER IN MIAMI.  This is perhaps the single best matchup for the Colts just for this reason.  The Colts D relies on speed which negates much of the Wild Cat trickery.  Miami’s PF/PA isn’t strong.  The Dolphins are 21st in the NFL in pass defense.  They have almost no playoff seasoning at all outside of Pennington.
What’s bad-  We’ve already gotten dusted by Chad Pennington in a playoff game this decade. Miami has the best turnover ratio in the AFC, which is a critical stat in playoff games.
Bottom Line:  Possibly the best first round matchup for the Colts.

New England Patriots:  4.6%
What’s Good About Playing the Pats
-  They are worse than the Jets in
DVOA, with one of the worst defenses in football.  In fact, FO has them
as the single worst team in playoff contention. Indy has beaten New
England this year.  The pressure on Matt Cassel will be enormous.
What’s Not Good-  January football in Foxborough?  Um, no thanks. 
Belichick screwed up the first matchup with Indy, and won’t make the
same mistakes again.  The downside to losing this game in terms of Pats
fans hate is WAY greater than the upside of beating them at home.
Bottom Line:  The world needs this game not to happen in the
first round.  If it must be, it must be. But it should come later on
down the line.

San Diego Chargers:  1.2%
What’s Good About the Chargers
-  We already won there.  Norv.  This weather is sweeeet.
What’s Not Good-  We said the same thing about Norv last year. 
Bottom Line:  They’re done.  So is Norv.

Baltimore Ravens:  0.8%
What’s Good About the Ravens-  A rookie QB and a blowout win already under our belts.  Indy has owned Baltimore in recent years.
What’s Not Good-  Weather might be a factor.  Their defense is brutal.  More yapping about the Colts leaving Baltimore.
Bottom Line:  It’s not going to happen in round one.

Links:  Prisco and Judge love 18 as an MVP candidate.

Brackett says he’s coming back sooner rather than later.

I love this deal. The fact that Reds fans loved Freel and hated Dunn shows how stupid people can be.

Fred Taylor may miss the rest of the season.  Well, I wouldn’t say he’ll be ‘missing it’, Bob.

Kuharsky looks at the 4 TDs stat.  The record for a season is 9.  It’s under serious assault.  What this really says is that teams can’t score quickly against the Colts.  If they are going to score, it’s going to have to be a run, which usually means the offense is in close.  Unless it’s the Texans or Bears, but whatever.

Demond Sanders:  Page 2 plays Match Game.  I love the featured stat for Peyton.  5 lucky plays from being 4-9?  Try 5 clutch plays that Peyton has made to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.