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The plate: colts are for the Dolts

Am I reading this right?

Do bookmakers have the Indianapolis Colts at 10-1 to win the Super Bowl? And 4-1 to get to the Super Bowl? You mean there is still someone who will bet on Indy?

That, my friends, is shocking. There is absolutely no way in the damn world that the Colts will make it to Miami, let alone win a title this year. I know the experts have insisted that Indy cannot stop the race this season. I know you’ve seen everyone from Maurice Jones-Drew to Travis Henry, Ronnie Brown, and Ron Dayne go berserk with them in featured packages over the past two months. I know you think Peyton Manning has a very tough road ahead if he’s going to score enough points to get through this 11-man train wreck that goes through a defense. But I don’t think you have a serious enough understanding of how bad the Colts’ defense is.

No team since 1985 has allowed as many rushing yards as Indianapolis. No. One. Team. That’s 652 other possible team seasons, and the Colts allowed more rushing yards per game, 173, than each of them. Clearly, that is historically bad. Do you want to go back even further? In the 16-game era (that is, since 1978) exactly nine teams have had worse seasons against the race than the 2006 Indianapolis Colts. Nine. 849 team seasons have been played from 1978 onwards. In exactly nine of these team seasons, a team allowed more than 173 rushing yards per game, a percentage of just over 1%. Here are the dirty nine, along with his rushing yards allowed per game, and his final record for losses won:

1978 Buffalo Bills: 201.8 rypg, (5-11)

1980 New Orleans Saints: 194.1 rypg, (1-15)

1978 Baltimore Colts: 188.1 rypg, (5-11)

1981 New England Patriots: 184.4 rypg, (2-14)

1979 Green Bay Packers: 180.3 rypg, (5-11)

1985 Houston Oilers: 175.9 rypg, (5-11)

1981 Seattle Seahawks: 175.4 rypg, (6-10)

1984 Houston Oilers: 174.3 rypg, (3-13)

Houston Oilers 1983: 174.2 rypg, (2-14)

Hell, technically we could even consider the Houston Oilers’ historically poor defense from 1983 to 1985 as a single team, right? Regardless, look at those win and loss records. The fact that the Colts were 12-4 this year is testament both to the sheer excellence of the offense and to the fact that the AFC South is something of a pathetic crush of soccer teams. As if this isn’t evidence enough that the Colts aren’t going anywhere fast, here are their 16-game era Super Bowl entrants, with their rushing yards per game allowed in the regular season:

2005 Pittsburgh Steelers: 85.5 rypg over Seattle Seahawks: 114.5 rypg

2004 New England Patriots: 98.3 rypg over Philadelphia Eagles: 118.9 rypg

2003 New England Patriots: 89.6 rypg over Carolina Panthers: 107.6 rypg

2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 97.1 rypg over Oakland Raiders: 90.8 rypg

2001 New England Patriots: 115.9 rypg over St. Louis Rams: 85.9 rypg

2000 Baltimore Ravens: 60.6 rypg over New York Giants: 72.3 rypg

1999 St. Louis Rams: 74.3 rypg over Tennessee Titans: 96.9 rypg

1998 Denver Broncos: 80.4 rypg over Atlanta Falcons: 75.2 rypg

1997 Denver Broncos: 112.7 rypg over Green Bay Packers: 117.3 rypg

1996 Green Bay Packers: 88.5 rypg over New England Patriots: 93.9 rypg

1995 Dallas Cowboys: 110.8 rypg over Pittsburgh Steelers: 82.6 rypg

1994 San Francisco 49ers: 83.6 rypg over San Diego Chargers: 87.8 rypg

1993 Dallas Cowboys: 103.2 rypg over Buffalo Bills: 120.1 rypg

1992 Dallas Cowboys: 77.8 rypg over Buffalo Bills: 87.2 rypg

1991 Washington Redskins: 84.1 rypg over Buffalo Bills: 127.8 rypg

1990 New York Giants: 91.2 rypg over Buffalo Bills: 113 rypg

1989 San Francisco 49ers: 86.4 rypg over Denver Broncos: 98.8 rypg

1988 San Francisco 49ers: 99.2 rypg over Cincinnati Bengals: 128 rypg

1987 Washington Redskins: 104.9 rypg over Denver Broncos: 126.1 rypg

1986 New York Giants: 80.9 rypg over Denver Broncos: 102.6 rypg

1985 Chicago Bears: 82.4 rypg over New England Patriots: 103.4 rypg

1984 San Francisco 49ers: 112.2 rypg over Miami Dolphins: 134.7 rypg

1983 Los Angeles Raiders: 99.1 rypg over Washington Redskins: 80.6 rypg

1982 Washington Redskins: 105.1 rypg over Miami Dolphins: 142.8 rypg

1981 San Francisco 49ers: 119.9 rypg over Cincinnati Bengals: 117.6 rypg

1980 Oakland Raiders: 108.1 rypg over Philadelphia Eagles: 101.1 rypg

1979 Pittsburgh Steelers: 106.8 rypg over Los Angeles Rams: 124.8 rypg

1978 Pittsburgh Steelers: 110.9 rypg over Dallas Cowboys: 107.6 rypg

Average rushing yards per game allowed by all of these teams? 100.5 yards per game. Average rushing yards per game allowed by winners? 95.3 yards per game. And the losers? 105.7 yards per game. (It’s worth noting that the team that allowed the fewest defensive rushing yards per game in the regular season won 20 of these Super Bowls and lost just eight.) The worst team against the race to ever play in a Super Bowl in the 16 era of the game? The ’82 Miami Dolphins (142.8 rypg), and that was in a strike year, with just nine regular-season games.

Give it up, Indy. There is no way.

How crazy was that Boise St. game over Oklahoma? I am still smiling. Were you looking? Could you believe the great Boise St. plays? Clearly, Oklahoma didn’t cover … Did that make it a commercially successful game for the books?

BoDog Bookmakers, Considering everything that happened in the last 3:00 of regulation and overtime, the Fiesta Bowl was one of the best bowling games in recent memory. I think every TV in the building here was in the game, and all eyes were definitely mesmerized by the heroics of Boise State. The hook-and-side play on 4th and 18 clearly surprised the Sooners, and the TD pass from 4th and 2 with Zabransky on the move caused Oklahoma to scratch his head, ultimately making a profitable situation for the house, and a a little glory and history for Boise.

Nick Saban is apparently out as the Dolphins head coach after just two seasons, and on his way to Alabama. What do you think this means for Miami and Alabama?

BDB, Well for Miami it means starting from the starting point. It was Saban who brought in Daunte Culpepper, and whoever the new coach is will need to cement the quarterback position as his first priority. It can be a tricky role to take on, especially considering that Ricky Williams may be back in Miami. Finding a good balance between him and Ronnie Brown will be key to the new man’s success. On the other hand, for Alabama it means they get the high-profile, well-paid coach they were looking for. We will have to see how long it will be before Alabama returns to the top of the SEC. However, with Saban’s coaching skills and knowledge of the conference (as he was previously a coach at LSU), he should be prepared to return Alabama to national prominence.

Where is the public betting on the National College Football Championship game … in favor of Ohio St. or Florida? And what is the mango like?

BDB, Prior to the Ohio State vs. Florida, the action has been balanced, with an almost identical amount wagered on both sides of the ball. Right now, control is low, but most of our action occurs in the 48 hours leading up to the game. We expect the action to be quick and heavy once the other bowling games are complete. Once the public starts betting, the house hopes to be a huge Florida fan.

I’m surprised the Colts are seven-point favorites over the Chiefs. How many rushing yards do you think Larry Johnson will have in that game? And which of the wild card games do you think will make an underdog win outright?

BDB, The Kansas City / Indianapolis line opened with Indy as the favorite by seven points. So far, sharp bettors haven’t caused the line to move. Bookmakers in general seem to be stable at seven points in the first days leading up to the game. The betting public should hold this line steady, as enough people know of the weakness exhibited by the Colts’ defense. By all accounts, Larry Johnson should have a career game against the Colts. The bruised running back averages 26 carries per game, and this number should rise to 30 against the worst running defense in the league. Kansas City will need to ride Johnson to win this game. To defeat Indianapolis, you must keep Manning off the field as much as possible. The best way to do this is to control the clock with a solid and time-consuming running game. The Colts can only hope that 2005 Pro Bowl safety Bob Sanders can return from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee that has kept him out of 12 games this season. Sanders has been seen practicing the last few days and is expected to start as long as the swelling in the knee can be controlled. Coach Tony Dungy has stated that Sanders cannot solve all of the team’s defensive problems. However, when he plays, the Colts are clearly a different team. The defense plays faster, more aggressively and with more confidence. In terms of total yards for Larry Johnson, if he can get more than 25 carries in the game, he can reasonably be expected to rack up more than 130 yards, depending on the impact of Sanders. Unfortunately, the wild card game that could have an underdog win is Dallas in Seattle. With injuries wearing down Seattle’s starting cornerbacks (both Ken Hamlin and Marcus Trufant are out), Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn are in a good position to have big games. Seattle will be hard-pressed to stop Dallas’ passing attack, especially on the big plays. This could potentially lead to an unfortunate surprise for the ‘Hawks’.

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