Colts are playoff pretenders

Can Andrew Luck carry the Indianapolis Colts into the postseason? David Butler II/US Presswire

Football coaches will tell you that there's no such thing as an easy game in the NFL, that style points don't matter, and that a win is a win no matter the opponent or margin of victory. And to a degree, they're right. When the league determines who makes the playoffs, it simply checks each team's "W" column, and higher is always better. However, if we want to determine which teams can succeed in the playoffs, we need to look a little deeper. The Indianapolis Colts, for instance, have seven wins and an inside track at an AFC wild-card berth. This team, however, is nowhere near as good as its record and seems destined for an early playoff exit.

The Colts already have won five more games this season than they did in 2011. At first glance, it's easy to credit that improvement to their new quarterback, but that progress has as much to do with dumb luck as it does with Andrew Luck. Although three of Indianapolis' losses have come by 20 or more points, each of its seven wins has come by seven or fewer points. And these aren't powerhouse teams the Colts are beating, either. Those seven opponents have a combined record of 31-46, and only one (Green Bay) would qualify for the playoffs if the season ended today. The Colts have spent most of their season playing just a little bit better than some of the worst teams in football.