In 13 seasons as the starting quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, Peyton Manning won 8 division titles. Even though he has been the Broncos starting quarterback for almost 2 seasons now, Manning helped the Colts win one more division crown.
Since the Colts beat the Tennessee Titans last week to go to 8-4 (and 4-0 in the AFC South), they all but clinched the division - but not officially. All they needed to officially clinch it was one win in the final four games or one Titans loss in the final four games.
Well, the Colts didn't get their part of the deal done this week, as they lost to the Bengals 42-28 during the 1:00 game. But the Titans had to travel to Denver to face the Broncos and Peyton Manning, who have been nearly unstoppable this season.
The Titans made it competitive early on, but they couldn't keep up with Peyton Manning - the same thing that happened so many years in Indianapolis. Peyton completed 39 of 59 passes (66.1%), 397 yards (6.7 yards per attempt), 4 touchdowns and no picks with a 107.8 passer rating.
And so Peyton Manning, the greatest player in Colts history who won them 8 division titles as their quarterback, won them one more today. It's funny how these things work out.
For the Colts, they are blessed to be a part of the worst division in football, but at the same time, I don't want to take anything away from them. We can't forget the first half of the season, and the Colts were playing like one of the best teams in the NFL. They beat the 49ers, the Seahawks, and the Broncos. They have been bad in the past month-plus since the bye week, but let's not ignore the fact that in the first half of the year, the Colts really earned this division title. And even if Peyton hadn't won it for them today, they would have won it at some point in the next few weeks.
Coming into the season, the Colts' first goal was to win the AFC South. They have now accomplished that goal, and while they have had a very rough stretch, they still deserve recognition and congratulations for reaching that goal and for winning the division just two years removed from being the worst team in football.
The Colts will host a playoff game for sure now as the winner of one of the AFC's four divisions. Because of the Bengals win today, however, the Colts would be the number 4 seed if the playoffs started today. The Broncos would be first, the Patriots second, the Colts fourth, the Chiefs fifth, and the Ravens sixth (although the sixth seed is very much up for grabs). That means the Colts would host the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round of the playoffs, and while the Colts look like a one-and-done team right now, they certainly are capable of beating the Chiefs at home.
But the playoffs are still a few weeks away. Today, though, despite a big loss to the Bengals on the road, the Colts clinched the AFC South and a playoff berth thanks to their former quarterback, Peyton Manning, and his Broncos beating the Titans.
Thanks, Peyton. And more importantly, congrats to the Colts on this accomplishment. Let's not diminish it by talking about how the only reason was because of a bad division because, while that helped, it's not like the Colts didn't earn it, either. They did. And as of today, they are the 2013 AFC South Champions.