For a decade, Indianapolis Colts fans have resided in the NFL’s high-rent district. After 10 years of ten or more wins and playoff appearances that came to be viewed as a birthright (and one horrid season where losing was a weekly expectation), Colts fans may have forgotten that the name of the game in the NFL is parity. What you’re seeing now is exactly how the NFL is designed to work.
After six games, nine of the league’s 32 teams stand dead even at 3-3. Another five teams, including the Colts, are within a half game of the .500 mark having played one game less because of byes. That’s almost half of the league straddling the fence between success and failure. The entire AFC East is 3-3.
This is no statistical outlier either. Last year, while the Colts and Rams limped toward 2-14 and the Packers flirted with perfection at 15-1, 13 of the 32 NFL teams finished at either 8-8 or within a game either way. One of those teams, the New York Giants, won the Super Bowl.
The norm for the NFL over the decade the Colts were dominating was clearly slanted toward mediocrity. Since 2002, 40 percent of the NFL’s teams have finished either at .500 or a game above or below in an average season. That trend was only broken in three seasons.
What does that mean for Colts fans? It means that we need to recalibrate our expectations back to the pre-Peyton Manning era when 8-8 and 9-7 was the rule rather than the exception. This is what we can expect, at least in the short run while the Colts retool the team that broke the mold of mediocrity.
That’s the way the NFL is designed, with its inverted draft order and schedules loaded to challenge division winners with tougher paths the following year. It should give us a profound respect for what those Manning-led teams accomplished. They managed to succeed at a level that was not only a cut above everyone else, but did so in spite of playing in a league that systematically tries to prevent such runs of success.
For right now it should also give us a great appreciation for the work done by Ryan Grigson and the new Colts’ staff. Just like the decade of 10 win seasons was an aberration, so too was last season’s 2-14 mark.
So pull down the bar, Colts fans, and make sure to secure all loose objects. We are once again passengers on the NFL’s annual roller coaster ride. We’ll see more games like the one in New York Sunday when Andrew Luck looked more like Curtis Painter than Peyton Manning. But we’ll also see the flashes of brilliance like we did two weeks ago when the Colts knocked off the Packers.
It will be frustrating and exhilarating, depending on the week. Enjoy the ride.
Chuck Chapman is entering his second season as the editor and lead writer for Colts 101. He also covered the Cincinnati Bengals for the Sports Media 101. Chuck and his family are originally from Ohio, but have settled in Central Indiana and become big Colts fans. You can read Chuck’s other writing about the Colts at www.colts101.com.
Tags: Andrew Luck, indianapolis colts, NFL
Posted in Colts Blog