I saw this over at Pats Pulpit regarding the two teams "better" than the Patriots in 2007, and nearly peed my pants:
The New York Giants earned bragging rights and will forever be known as the team that stopped the juggernaut from New England. The second team is an unhealthy Colts. I hate winning in that situation because there's always a question mark in my mind.
This is the first time I've seen a Pats fan acknowledge something we talked about here all throughout 2007: If Indy were healthy in 2007, they would have made New England 17-1, and not 18-1. But, like anything else, injuries are what they are. New England kept their guys healthy and Indy didn't. Them's the breaks. The Pats had the same injury problem in 2005, and got as far into the playoffs as the Colts did in 2007.
This brings me to the all important question: Did Indy do enough to get better?
NFL.com has a fan ranking up, allowing you to rank all 32 teams. NFL Network had some writers on recently, and each listed their top 5 teams right now. What was interesting is each had the same teams n the top 5 (Indianapolis, New England, NY Giants, San Diego, and Dallas). Of course, this means absolutely nothing, but it is interesting to see how teams view the Colts. Remember, last season everyone anointed the Patriots world champs before nary a game was played because the Patriots had made several player moves to get Randy Moss, Adalius Thomas, Wes Welker, and Sammy Morris. Meanwhile, the Colts kept on the same path they always do, brought back the same playmakers that dominated the 2006 playoffs, and most ranked New England ahead.
This year, the Patriots have done very little to improve their roster. They've lost most of their secondary to free agency, including (arguably) their best player on defense, Assante Samuel. Dante Stallworth is gone, and Sammy Morris' health is in doubt. The Colts, meanwhile, have gotten healthy, added pass rushing depth through the draft, and signed Dominic Rhodes.
It seems that Indy has improved itself while teams like New England haven't. Even the Chargers, who beat the Colts twice last season in close games, have done little in free agency and have significant injury concerns of their own (Philip Rivers, LT, Antonio Gates). San Diego also lost the "Colts Killer" (Michael Turner) to free agency.
The Colts sport one of the youngest teams in football. Peyton Manning, Bob Sanders, Reggie Wayne, and Dallas Clark are in the primes of their careers. Tony Ugoh, Anthony Gonzalez, Freddie Keiaho, and Quinn Pitcock look poised to make big leaps in 2008 after strong 2007 seasons. Marvin Harrison, Dwight Freeney, and Robert Mathis are expected back 100%. With Dom Rhodes, Joseph Addai, and rookie Mike Hart, Indy has a very potent running back group, and with the draft they beefed up the o-line.
It seems, in mid-May, that this team is ready to make another run. Then again, championships are not won in mid-May. Just ask that Patriots.