The 2012 Colts are a team worthy of any media outlet's time, for multiple reasons. Their first-year head coach, Chuck Pagano, temporarily left his position three games into the season after being diagnosed with leukemia. The team proudly plays in his honor. Andrew Luck, the first overall pick, is a strong rookie of the year candidate—he's drawing inevitable Peyton Manning comparisons with his play. Despite their very young squad—with rookies Luck, Vick Ballard, T.Y. Hilton, Lavon Brazill, Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen—and Pagano's illness, the Colts surprisingly, impressively, now display an 8-4 record with a high probability of nabbing a playoff spot.
Remember where this team was a year ago? Curtis Painter and Kerry Collins stumbled around behind center as Jim Caldwell stared off into the distance. And their defense may have been even worse than their offense. They finished 2-14.
But, while we ought to admire what the Colts have done, we shouldn't take them seriously as a threat to the AFC's better teams. Indianapolis's good, surprising record? It's hollow.
Take a peek at the Colts' victories. Their only win against a team with a record above .500 came against the Packers. When facing fellow AFC teams, the Colts are 5-3. In those eight games, the Patriots are the only team with a record better than .500, and the Colts lost to them. Badly. Indy also lost to the Jets—horribly—after Rex Ryan decided to simply run the ball down their throats and minimize Mark Sanchez's chances of turning the ball over. According to Football Outsiders (second table), the Colts have had the league's 26th-most difficult schedule so far.
And that defense. That horrid, horrid defense. Football Outsiders ranks the team 31st in defensive DVOA. Only the Raiders are worse, and one of their starters has been leading a mutiny for the past month. Indy's defense is a white flag with holes in it. That tends to happen when a starting spot rotates between Tom Zbikowski and Sergio Brown.
The Colts deserve all the attention they're getting. They're a developing team with a lot of exciting players, and they should win 10 games, based on the easy schedule they have left. They're a treat to root for. But they'll also be a treat to play in the first round.