The Falcons have only lost one game. The Patriots have a running game. The Texans have the 6th most rushing yards per game and allow the 2nd fewest. The Bears have a quarterback and a receiver with ESP. The Broncos have a 36 year old Peyton playing like he’s 28. The 49ers have found themselves a quarterback. Yet, the most dangerous team in football isn’t any of these. The most dangerous team in football finished with a 2-14 record last year, lost their hall of fame quarterback, and has a rookie starting in his place. The most dangerous team in football is the Indianapolis Colts.

One difference between this year and last year is Andrew Luck. In the history of the NFL, there has never been (and probably never will be) a rookie as impressive as Luck. Just one year removed from Stanford, he has led the Colts to 5 game-winning drives. Luck ranks 4th in passing yards,2nd in total offense, and 6th in ESPN’s total QBR.

Over 30 Colts shaved their heads in support of Chuck Pagano
Over 30 Colts shaved their heads in support of Chuck Pagano

While Luck gets criticized for throwing the most interceptions in the NFL, think about what he has to do for Colts. He throws the ball about 50 times a game (he has the 2nd most pass attempts in the NFL), has an atrocious offensive line, no running game, and only one receiver. He isn’t throwing screens either. Luck throws the ball to his running back less than any quarterback in the league.

All great quarterbacks make those around them play at a higher level. Peyton Manning is doing it in Denver, Brady is doing it in Foxborough, and Luck is doing it in Indianapolis. Even though he is on offense, Luck is even making the Colts’ defense better by giving the D more rest and more to play for. The Colts defense is allowing nearly 40 less rushing yards than last year and have nearly as many sacks through 12 games as the 2011 Colts had in 16.

Luck has also made the entire offense better. The 2012 Colts have 200 more yards on offense than the Colts did in the entire 2011 season. Luck’s Colts have already outscored 2011’s, and this Colts team has something that they had none of last year: confidence. They know what they’re doing, and they know that they can win any game.

The reason that the Colts are the most dangerous football team in the NFL isn’t only because of Andrew Luck. In early October, head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with Leukemia. Shortly after the diagnoses, most members of the team shaved their heads in support of their coach and his fight with chemotherapy. Since then, Pagano has not been able to coach the team, but on November 4, right after a game against the Dolphins, Pagano gave this stirring speech:

With that speech, the Colts went from being a couple of defensive lineman, wide receivers, etc., to being a true team, and in football, nothing is more dangerous than a team bonded together through a tragic experience. Because of this, the Colts have become a family. That family has refused to give up on each other, even when they are in pain and exhausted in the fourth quarter of a game. That’s why the Colts scored two touchdowns in the last 2 minutes and 39 seconds to beat the Lions, and that’s why the Colts will be harder to beat than the Patriots once Pagano returns to the sidelines come playoff time (Pagano finished chemotherapy on December 5 and will be back coaching as soon as Week 16).

Sometimes when teams play for something bigger than sports, miracles can happen. The Saints did this when they won the Super Bowl post-Katrina, and the 1980 US hockey team did this against the Soviet Union. Right now, these Colts are playing for their beloved coach, and they won’t stop until they, in the words of Pagano, “hoist that Lombardi several times.” Watch out NFL. The Colts are back, and, through the power of family, they’re going to shock the world.

 

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