This Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts face the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV to determine this season's NFL Champion. Unbeknownst to the Colts, they face another opponent on Super Bowl Sunday -- the historical image of themselves -- the Baltimore Colts.
Super Bowl XLIV will be the 438th game (counting all regular season and postseason games) the Colts have played since the team moved to Indianapolis in 1984. Between 1953 and 1983, the Baltimore Colts played exactly 438 games. As of now, the Baltimore Colts and Indianapolis Colts have each won 230 games. If Indianapolis wins Super Bowl XLIV, they will surpass the storied Baltimore Colts in total victories and Super Bowl wins.
There is an amazing similarity in the record of this franchise split between two cities. The Indianapolis Colts have won 230 games and lost 207 games for a winning percentage of .526 . The Baltimore Colts won 230 games, lost 201 games and tied 7 games for a winning percentage of .534. So, even if the Colts beat the Saints in the Super Bowl, the Baltimore Colts will have a better overall record than the Indianapolis Colts due to fewer losses and the 7 tie games.
In the postseason, the Indianapolis Colts have won 11 games and lost 11 games, compared to the Baltimore Colts 8 victories to 7 losses. While the Baltimore Colts have won 3 NFL titles -- 1958, 1959 and Super Bowl V, the Indianapolis Colts will only have two titles if they win Super Bowl XLIV. However, Baltimore won its three titles over 31 seasons, compared to the 26 seasons of the Indianapolis Colts. The equal number of games in fewer seasons is due to the 16 game schedule since the mid-1970s and more playoff opportunities since the late 1960s.
Despite the emphasis in scoring more points in the NFL today, the Baltimore Colts outscored the Indianapolis Colts by 90 points over their near equal histories (pending the results of the Super Bowl). The Baltimore Colts also gave up 464 fewer points than the Indianapolis Colts in the near equal amount of games.
Both teams have had one dominant quarterback: Johnny Unitas for Baltimore and Peyton Manning for Indianapolis. Eighty percent of the Baltimore Colts playoff appearances, including the three NFL Championship Games and two Super Bowl appearances, took place when Mr. Unitas was quarterback (although injured for most of the 1968 season). Seventy-seven percent of the Indianapolis Colts playoff appearances, including both Super Bowls, will take place with Mr. Manning as quarterback.
It also should be noted that Miami has been the locale of all four Colts Super Bowl appearances.
Regardless of the result of Super Bowl XLVI, by next season the majority of games played by the Colts franchise will be as an Indianapolis team. It is unlikely that the Indianapolis Colts will play games as historically significant as the two most famous games of the Baltimore Colts: the 1958 Championship, which propelled NFL football to the forefront of professional sports in the United States, and Super Bowl III, which ended the debate over NFL/AFL superiority. Yet, the Indianapolis Colts have become an NFL powerhouse in recent years -- a potential dynasty in the making.
Fred Shoken, Baltimore
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