The Herald Bulletin

December 9, 2013

George Bremer: 99 problems, title ain't 1

The Herald Bulletin

---- — Embrace it. Because tomorrow is promised to no one.

The Indianapolis Colts are champions of a bad division this morning. But in today's NFL, that division isn't likely to remain bad for long.

Jacksonville is rallying behind the energy and enthusiasm of a head coach determined to turn the Jaguars into the league's next great success story. Tennessee is reportedly about to embark on a total makeover that could send the franchise in any direction. And Houston — because of an inexplicable 11-game losing streak — is in position to add the No. 1 pick in next year's draft to an already talent-rich roster.

The Colts went from 2-14 and the No. 1 pick to the playoffs last year, and Kansas City is poised to do the same this season. In fact, Indianapolis likely will host the Chiefs in the AFC Wild Card round on Jan. 4 or 5.

It's not difficult at all to imagine the Texans making a similar turnaround in 2014.

Embrace it. Because this is supposed to be fun.

You're reminded of that as you try to stifle a giggle watching the highlights of Sunday's blizzard bowl in Philadelphia. This is a kid's game played by men, and that was never more evident than when former Colts and current Lions wide receiver Jeremy Ross fell to the ground and made snow angels after a 58-yard punt return for a touchdown.

There was no such joy in the manner by which Indianapolis clinched the AFC South title Sunday. Hours after a frosty 14-point loss in Cincinnati, the Colts were handed another banner to hang in Lucas Oil Stadium when Peyton Manning and the Broncos blew out the Titans in Denver.

But that doesn't mean the championship isn't worthy of celebration.

Embrace it. Because this doesn't happen in the rest of the league.

It's hard to imagine in the place where Manning made parity irrelevant, but this isn't how most of the NFL lives. In any other league outpost — save perhaps a certain northeastern hub with an historic fondness for tea — eight division titles in 11 years is cause for astonishment.

In central Indiana, it's a starting point.

That's why there will be warranted worries about the Colts' defense, offensive line and postseason chances for at least the next three weeks.

This is a deeply flawed team that is impossible to predict from week to week. It's a team that hasn't had a truly inspiring performance since beating Manning and the Broncos on Oct. 20. And it's a team that has allowed 40 or more points in two of the past three weeks, suffered four of its five losses by at least 10 points and been outscored by three points overall by the opposition this season.

But it's also a championship team. For the first time in the Andrew Luck era.

Embrace it.