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Rick Gosselin: Colts will win Super Bowl 45

Lots of people read Dallas Morning News writer Rick Gosselin, especially his pre-NFL Draft coverage and predictions which are, oftentimes, scary accurate.

So, when Rick makes his picks for the Super Bowl a good eight months prior to the actual event itself, people like me take notice. This is especially true when Rick picks my team to go back to the Super Bowl one year after they lost one against the Saints.

Eight of the past 11 Super Bowl losers failed to qualify for the playoffs the following season. None of those eight, however, had Peyton Manning as its quarterback.

So don't look for the Indianapolis Colts to take a step backward in 2010 despite that heart-thumping Super Bowl defeat to the New Orleans Saints.

The Colts were the NFL's best team last season with a 14-2 record. Manning was the league's best player, capturing the MVP award a record fourth time.

The Colts reached the Super Bowl despite the absence of Pro Bowl safety Bob Sanders for 17 of the team's 19 games because of a torn biceps muscle. Indianapolis also played 18 games without starting wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez, and starting cornerbacks Marlin Jackson and Kelvin Hayden combined to suit up for only 16 of a possible 38 games.

There's a reason Colts president Bill Polian won his record sixth NFL Executive of the Year award last season, and it's because he managed to build a very deep Colts team that was able to make the Super Bowl despite several significant injuries to key players. In 2010, several of those injured players will return, making the 2010 team even deeper than the team that almost beat the Saints.

It's very rare that a football team loses a Super Bowl and comes back the next year to win it. The last team to do so was the annoying legendary 1972 Miami Dolphins. They lost Super Bowl 6 to the Dallas Cowboys, but came back with a vengeance the next season, going undefeated for the 1972 season. They beat the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl 7, and have been living off the glory of that season ever since.

It's interesting to note that the Colts spent much of last season fending off comparisons to the 1972 Dolphins, and then in Week Sixteen effectively thumbing their noses at them by telling the world that an "undefeated" regular season was meaningless. Winning the Super Bowl was all that mattered. Thus, in an effort to keep certain core players healthy, the Colts were willing to sacrifice regular season wins in order to rest people like Peyton Manning and Dwight Freeney for the playoff run.

The irony, of course, is that Dwight Freeney ended up getting hurt anyway in the AFC Championship Game. This injury played a major part in Saints quarterback Drew Brees having a magnificent day throwing the football in Super Bowl 44, leading the Saints to victory.

It's also interesting that the last team to go back to a Super Bowl after losing one the year prior was the Buffalo Bills. The Bills played in four consecutive Super Bowls from 1990-1993. They lost all of them. The general manager of the franchise back then was our own Bill Polian. So, I guess if there's anyone out there who knows what it takes to get back to the big game, it's Big Bill.

Gosselin also predicts the Cowboys will face the Colts in Super Bowl 45, which will take place in (you guessed it!) Cowboys Stadium in 2011!