Am I reading this right?
The sports books have the Indianapolis Colts at 10-1 to win the Super Bowl? And 4-1 to make the Super Bowl? You mean there's still someone out there who'll bet on Indy?
That, my friends, is shocking. There is absolutely no way in the friggin 'world the Colts will even make it to Miami, let alone win a title this year. I know experts have harped on the fact that Indy can not stop the run this season. I know you've seen everyone from Maurice Jones-Drew to Travis Henry to Ronnie Brown to Ron Dayne run wild on them in highlight packages over the past couple months. I know you believe Peyton Manning has a seriously tough road ahead of him if he's going to score enough points to overcome this 11-man tackling train wreck that passes for a defense. But I do not think you have a serious enough grap on exactly how bad this Colts rush defense is.
Not a single team since 1985 has allowed as many rushing yards as Indianapolis. Not. One. Team. That's 652 other possible team-seasons, and the Colts allowed more rush yards per game, 173, than every single one of them. Clearly, that's historically bad. Want to go back even further? In the 16-game era (that is, since 1978) exactly nine teams have turned in worse seasons against the run than 2006 Indianapolis Colts. Nine. There have been 849 team-seasons played from 1978 forward. In exactly nine of these team-seasons did a squad allow more than 173 yards rushing per game, a percentage of just over 1%. Here are the dirty nine, along with their yards rushing allowed per game, and their final won-loss record:
1978 Buffalo Bills: 201.8 rypg, (5-11)
1980 New Orleans Saints: 194.1 rypg, (1-15)
1978 Baltimore Colts: 188.1 rypg, (5-11)
1981 New England Patriots: 184.4 rypg, (2-14)
1979 Green Bay Packers: 180.3 rypg, (5-11)
1985 Houston Oilers: 175.9 rypg, (5-11)
1981 Seattle Seahawks: 175.4 rypg, (6-10)
1984 Houston Oilers: 174.3 rypg, (3-13)
1983 Houston Oilers: 174.2 rypg, (2-14)
Heck, technically we could even consider the historically bad Houston Oilers' run defense from 1983 to 1985 one team, could not we? Regardless, look at those won-loss records. The fact that the Colts actually went 12-4 this year is testament both to the offense's sheer excellence, and the fact that the AFC South is kind of a pathetic agglomeration of football teams. As if this were not enough evidence that the Colts are going nowhere fast, here are your 16-game-era Super Bowl participants, with their regular-season rush-yards-per-game allowed:
2005 Pittsburgh Steelers: 85.5 rypg over Seattle Seahawks: 114.5 rypg
2004 New England Patriots: 98.3 rypg over Philadelphia Eagles: 118.9 rypg
2003 New England Patriots: 89.6 rypg over Carolina Panthers: 107.6 rypg
2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 97.1 rypg over Oakland Raiders: 90.8 rypg
2001 New England Patriots: 115.9 rypg over St.. Louis Rams: 85.9 rypg
2000 Baltimore Ravens: 60.6 rypg over New York Giants: 72.3 rypg
1999 St. Louis Rams: 74.3 rypg over Tennessee Titans: 96.9 rypg
1998 Denver Broncos: 80.4 rypg over Atlanta Falcons: 75.2 rypg
1997 Denver Broncos: 112.7 rypg over Green Bay Packers: 117.3 rypg
1996 Green Bay Packers: 88.5 rypg over New England Patriots: 93.9 rypg
1995 Dallas Cowboys: 110.8 rypg over Pittsburgh Steelers: 82.6 rypg
1994 San Francisco 49ers: 83.6 rypg over San Diego Chargers: 87.8 rypg
1993 Dallas Cowboys: 103.2 rypg over Buffalo Bills: 120.1 rypg
1992 Dallas Cowboys: 77.8 rypg over Buffalo Bills: 87.2 rypg
1991 Washington Redskins: 84.1 rypg over Buffalo Bills: 127.8 rypg
1990 New York Giants: 91.2 rypg over Buffalo Bills: 113 rypg
1989 San Francisco 49ers: 86.4 rypg over Denver Broncos: 98.8 rypg
1988 San Francisco 49ers: 99.2 rypg over Cincinnati Bengals: 128 rypg
1987 Washington Redskins: 104.9 rypg over Denver Broncos: 126.1 rypg
1986 New York Giants: 80.9 rypg over Denver Broncos: 102.6 rypg
1985 Chicago Bears: 82.4 rypg over New England Patriots: 103.4 rypg
1984 San Francisco 49ers: 112.2 rypg over Miami Dolphins: 134.7 rypg
1983 Los Angeles Raiders: 99.1 rypg over Washington Redskins: 80.6 rypg
1982 Washington Redskins: 105.1 rypg over Miami Dolphins: 142.8 rypg
1981 San Francisco 49ers: 119.9 rypg over Cincinnati Bengals: 117.6 rypg
1980 Oakland Raiders: 108.1 rypg over Philadelphia Eagles: 101.1 rypg
1979 Pittsburgh Steelers: 106.8 rypg over Los Angeles Rams: 124.8 rypg
1978 Pittsburgh Steelers: 110.9 rypg over Dallas Cowboys: 107.6 rypg
Average rush-yards-per-game allowed by all these teams? 100.5 yards per game. Average rush-yards-per-game allowed by the winners? 95.3 yards per game. And the losers? 105.7 yards per game. (It's worth noting that the team who allowed fewer defensive rush yards per game in the regular season has won 20 of these Super Bowls, and lost only eight.) The worst team against the run ever to play in a Super Bowl in the 16- Game era? The '82 Miami Dolphins (142.8 rypg), and that was in a strike year, with only nine regular season games.
Give it up, Indy. There is no way.
How crazy was that Boise St. Game over Oklahoma? I'm still smiling. Were you watching? Could you believe the great Boise St. Plays? Clearly, Oklahoma did not cover ... did that make it a successful game, business-wise, for the books?
BoDog Bookmakers, BoDog.ws: Considering everything that took place in the last 3:00 of regulation and overtime, the Fiesta Bowl was one of the best bowl games in recent memory. I think every TV in the building over here was on the game, and all eyes were definitely mesmerized by the heroes of Boise State. The hook-and-lateral play on 4th-and-18 clearly shocked the Sooners, and the 4th-and-2 TD pass with Zabransky in motion had Oklahoma scratching their heads, which extremely made for a profitable situation for the house, and a Little bit of glory and history for Boise.
Nick Saban is apparently out as Dolphins head coach after just two seasons, and on his way to Alabama. What do you think this means for Miami and for Alabama?
BDB, BoDog.ws: Well, for Miami it means starting back at square one. It was Saban who welcomed in Daunte Culpepper, and whoever the new coach is will need to solidify the quarterback position as his first priority. It may be a tricky role to assum, especially considering Ricky Williams may be back in the fold for Miami. Finding a good balance between him and Ronnie Brown will be a key for the new man's success. On the other hand, for Alabama it means they get the high-profile, highly-paid coach they've been looking for. We'll have to see how long it will be before Alabama gets back to the top of the SEC. However, with Saban's coaching skills and knowledge of the conference (since he previously coached at LSU), he should be prepared to bring Alabama back to national prominence.
Where is the betting public coming down on the college football National Championship game ... in favor of Ohio St.. Or Florida? And how is the handle?
BDB, BoDog.ws: Leading up to the Ohio State vs. Florida game, the action has been balanced, with almost an odd wagered amount on both sides of the ball. Right now, the handle is low, but the majority of our action comes in the 48 hours prior to the game. We expect the action to come fast and heavy once the other bowl games are complete. Once the public starts to bet, the house expects to be a big fan of Florida.
I'm surprised the Colts are a seven-point favorite over the Chiefs. How many rushing yards do you think Larry Johnson will have in that game? And which of the Wild Card games do you think will see an underdog win outright?
BDB, BoDog.ws: The Kansas City / Indianapolis line opened with Indy as a seven-point favorite. So far, sharp bettors have not caused the line to move. Sportsbooks across the board seem to be holding steady at seven points in the early days leading up to the game. The betting public should keep this line steady, as enough people know of the weakness exhibited by the Colts run defense. By all accounts, Larry Johnson should have a career game against the Colts. The bruising running back averages 26 carries a game, and this number should increase into the 30s going up against the worst run defense in the league. Kansas City will need to ride Johnson to win this game. In order to defeat Indianapolis, you have to keep Manning off the field as much as possible. The best way to do this is to control the clock with a solid, time-consuming run game. The Colts can only hope that 2005 Pro Bowl safety Bob Sanders is able to return from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, which has kept him out of 12 games this season. Sanders has been seen practicing the past few days, and is expected to start so long as the swing in his knee can be controlled. Coach Tony Dungy has stated that Sanders can not solve all of the team's defensive problems. However, when he plays, the Colts are clearly a different team. The defense plays quicker, more aggressively and with more confidence. In terms of total yardage for Larry Johnson, if he can get 25+ carries in the game, it can be reasonably expected that he puts up 130+ yards, depending on the impact of Sanders. Unfortunately, the Wild Card game that could see an underdog win is Dallas in Seattle. With injuries depleting the starting cornerbacks for Seattle (both Ken Hamlin and Marcus Trufant are out), Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn are in a good position to have big games. Seattle will be hard-pressed to stop the Dallas air attack, especially on the big plays. This could potentially lead to an unfortunate upset for the 'Hawks.