On a sunny afternoon in Los Angeles, California, during the early days of 1967, the Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10 in a game that would be known as Super Bowl I. Since that game, 54 other Super Bowl champions have been crowned, bringing pure elation to the fanbases who religiously follow their teams year-round. Since moving from Baltimore to Indianapolis in 1984, the Colts franchise has celebrated one Lombardi Trophy victory during the 2006-2007 season. Before and after that season were many playoff runs marred with disappointment and disparate feelings of underperformance. It has been well over a decade since the city of Indianapolis has been able to taste the sweetness of Super Bowl perfection, far too long, some may argue, with the talent that has graced the Lucas Oil Stadium Turf.
But the Colts may get another crack at the seven-pound sterling silver trophy this year, so long as they beat the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday; they’ll be in the dance. And once you’re in the dance, anything can happen.
Why the Colts Will Win the Super Bowl
Super Bowls have been won by teams with a variety of strengths and weaknesses. Some like the 1985 Chicago Bears, 2000 Baltimore Ravens, and 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers had historically great defenses and mediocre to slightly above average quarterbacks (Jim McMahon, 15-11 TD-INT ratio in 1985, Trent Dilfer, 55.5% career completion percentage, and Brad Johnson, nicknamed “Checkdown Charlie”). Others like the 1999 St. Louis Rams and the 1995 Dallas Cowboys had legendary offenses. The Colts have neither a historically great defense or an extremely potent offense, but what they do have is a well-balanced team that performs well on both sides of the ball. Every Super Bowl team to ever win the Lombardi has had at least 23 turnovers forced during the regular season. The Colts have that box checked, as they’ve forced 31 through 16 games. Secondly, while Carson Wentz hasn’t been playing at an elite level this season, the Colts are still 7th in the NFL in points per game with 27.5. Over the past four years, every team that went to the big game finished top 5 in offensive points per game. The Colts currently rank 7th but are within 4 points of the Bengals, who are in 5th. These stats may seem obscure and nonsensical, but they hold some weight considering they have stood the test of time.
A recent Super Bowl championship team that fans have been comparing the 2021 Colts to are the 2012 Baltimore Ravens. Headlined by “elite?” Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, a young Torrey Smith, and an older Anquan Boldin on offense. On defense, the Ravens featured an aging Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, plus Ravens great Haloti Ngata and prime Paul Kruger. Flacco’s 2012 regular season stats are eerily similar to that of Wentz’s thus far. Wentz has produced about three ticks higher than 2012 Flacco in the completion percentage department, albeit on 44 fewer attempts. Flacco also threw for almost 500 yards more than Wentz has, but this again can be chalked up to the attempt discrepancy. Wentz has thrown for more touchdowns and fewer interceptions than Flacco did in 2012 (26-6, 22-10) and has been sacked less (25 to 36) while also posting a higher quarterback rating (95.8 to 87.7). Flacco’s yards per attempt averaged out to be 7.2 during the regular season, while Carson Wentz sits at 6.9. What remains to be seen is how Carson Wentz will perform in the playoffs, as that is where Flacco became elite. In the Ravens’ four-game playoff run, Joe Flacco threw 11 touchdowns and 0 interceptions for 1140 yards, or 285 yards per game on 31 attempts per game. Flacco posted a pristine 117.2 passer rating over the four-game stretch and averaged 9 yards per attempt, a truly remarkable number that would put him in the top 25 all-time in YPA if that number held constant and was extrapolated out over a 16 game season.
The 2012 Ravens may have had more of a veteran presence, especially on defense with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, but the roster that Chris Ballard has built is filled with self-motivated, high-character players that want more than anything to win a Super Bowl ring. The similarities between the 2012 Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens and the current Colts are uncanny, but what will ultimately make or break this Colts’ season is the play of Carson Wentz in the playoffs. Wentz had shown the ability to be elite before, namely during the 2017 season when he was the MVP front runner. But can he, for four games in late January/early February, be an elite quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts? A Lombardi Trophy awaits if the answer is yes.
The stats used in this article were obtained from Pro-Football-Reference, Football Outsiders, and Football Database.