Colts can handle long odds of trying to run the table

Commentary

November 23, 2005|By PETER SCHMUCK

If you ask me, the Indianapolis Colts are going to go undefeated this year and push right past the 1972 Miami Dolphins to complete the greatest season in the history of the NFL ... which means you should probably ask someone else.

After watching Peyton Manning dissect Marvin Lewis' vaunted Cincinnati Bengals defense on Sunday - and when I use the word "dissect," I mean he made the Bengals defensive backs look like so many fetal pigs in a high school biology class - it was obvious to me that the only way the Colts are going to lose this year is if Eli's big brother suddenly decides to chuck the whole clean-cut All-American quarterback thing and join Lenny Kravitz on his next world tour.

The Colts score more than Matt Leinart could on sorority row, but the oddsmakers say they will be outscored at least once this year, and are saying that with a surprising level of confidence.

I know this because I spent the weekend in Las Vegas doing some important research in the field of probability and statistics, and this is what I found out. The odds against Peyton and Co. conquering everybody in their path to a Super Bowl championship are 37 1/2 -1.

That's a pretty fair payoff, though professional ethics prevented me from plunking down $50 (to return $1,800). It's also a pretty good indication of how difficult it will be for the Colts to win nine more games in a row.

Of course, the Indy defense isn't exactly invincible. The Bengals scored 37 points Sunday and actually scored as many times (seven) as the Colts, not counting PATs. The people who set the gambling lines figure that the offense and the defense will have a soft performance on the same day at least once ... or else the Colts will eventually run into Bill Belichick in the playoffs and go all wobbly again.

I'm not such a cynic. I think Sunday's defensive performance was an anomaly and - in this age of NFL parity - the Colts are truly in a class by themselves. I believe they're going to win out, and I'm already kicking myself for not making that bet.

Quick vocabulary update for Eagles fans: An anomaly is anything that diverges from the norm without logical explanation, sort of like that victory over the Falcons in last season's NFC championship game.

Did I hear ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit correctly? During a feature on Heisman Trophy candidate Reggie Bush on Monday, ESPN's SportsCenter ran a video montage of the great running backs who gave USC the nickname "Tailback U," then the host asked Herbstreit who he thought was the best of the bunch.

His answer: Marcus Allen ... and he said it as if it wasn't even a close call.

Allen was a great college running back and a great NFL Hall of Famer, but he wasn't in the same college stratosphere as O.J. Simpson, who some feel was the greatest college running back of all time. Nobody wants to say anything nice about O.J. anymore, and with good reason, but you can't take that away from him.

The ESPN package also slighted Heisman Trophy winner Mike Garrett, leaving him out of the montage even though he is credited with starting the great wave of USC superbacks.

I returned from vacation to find that The Sun has a new sports blog featuring former Orioles beat writer Roch Kubatko, whose musings can be found both on this page and at www.baltimoresun.com. He was nice enough to offer me unlimited B-12 shots in his inaugural posting, so I figured if I give him a plug here he might throw in the steroid contamination at no extra charge.

The Ravens may be leaning toward making Jamal Lewis their franchise player next year, but that might be a huge mistake.

Lewis already is grumpy about his inability to get a long-term deal, and that might compound his frustration and create a repeat of this year's uneven performance. He'd be guaranteed a big salary for one year, but his gripe isn't as much with the money as with the perception that the club - in his mind - has failed to make good on an implied promise to sign him to a multi-year deal.

The solution will become more obvious as the season progresses. Sign Chester Taylor and let Lewis try to get his big deal on the open market.

Did anyone notice that there was a large picture of Bo Derek in yesterday's Page 2 column by Childs Walker? I don't want to get too territorial, but Bo is the only good-looking actress in Hollywood who's a Republican, so you'd think that I would have exclusive rights to use her likeness.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

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