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Published on 09/27/2007 at Thu Sep 27 11:24.
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Jonathon Larosa owns a great Indy blog called Naptown’s Finest, and he agreed to answer some questions regarding his team to help us scout the fans. I’ll be answering some of his questions regarding the Broncos too as well, so be sure to check it out.

1. Vegas, the national media, and my grandpa all believe the Patriots are the best team in the NFL this year. Are the Colts feeling the disrespect, and how do the fans react when their team, the reigning champs, are overlooked?

Vegas chose Tyson against Holyfield and this is the same national media that chose to cover the birth of sextuplets over voting for the war in Iraq in ’03! Your grandpa, he’s probably a great guy but he probably remembers the Colts of the dismal Art Schleister days and the Midnight Mayflower Run in ’84.

Look, anyone in Indianapolis will (through clenched teeth) admit to the Pats dominance in the AFC. Come on, Brady, Moss, Bruschi, Belichick…God, the list goes on! They are a solid – I mean solid – team. And Asante Samuel seems to be Peyton’s biggest nemesis as nearly every meeting they have Peyton throws at least one interception to Samuel.

These two teams are not the same as last year as both have gone through major changes in the off season. But ask anyone on West Street in downtown Indy (RCA Dome) and they’ll break it down like this…”The Colts beat the Pats in their meeting last year, the Colts are reigning Super Bowl champs and they put together the greatest comeback in AFC Championship history to get there! Who’s the better team? COLTS, BABY!”

Love? The Colts didn’t have national love last year and they still got it done. What’s to say the Colts want it this year?

2. Some are saying the AFC South has become the best division in football. Do you agree, and how big is it that you’re 2-0 on the road in the division when you were 0-3 last year?

Huge. The Colts starting off 3-0 is great, but starting off 2-0 versus two very tough and maturing divisional teams (Titans and Texans) is bigger.

I would say this whether the Colts were in this division or not, but the AFC South division is certainly the toughest in the league today. There are other teams that are tough in other divisions like the Pats, for instance, but as you can see the Bills, Fins and Jets aren’t much competition. It’s the same around the league, except, that is, for the AFC South where the Texans and the Titans have really stepped up and the Jags’ running game is still deadly with Taylor and Jones-Drew busting up the line of scrimmage.

3. The run defense looks miles ahead of last year’s, despite losing starters on defense to both free agency and injury. Everyone wants to know… Is Bob Sanders really that good?

Ask anyone in Colts Land about Peyton Manning and they’ll cross their hearts, smile and look toward heaven as if he’s a saint. Ask anyone here about Bob Sanders and they’ll all crunch their faces and then smile even bigger and that’s the nonverbal way of saying, “Damn, that man can hit!”

Colts fans love Sanders. Love him. He is Indy’s Steve Atwater or John Lynch, Ronnie Lott or Howie Long. He’s exciting and he’s smart and he’s tough as nails! Not to take away from Sanders, but keep an eye on Freddy Keiaho…it’s Bob a couple years ago – a hard-hitter just beginning to hit hard.

Oh, and yes…Bob Sanders is leagues above that good. He’s HOF material.

4. Brett Favre will be breaking a big record this weekend – is he just a placeholder in the record books until Peyton catches up?

Brett Favre is a long-time favorite of mine personally. Who doesn’t love Favre and respect him? But if we’re talking brass tacks here, Favre, Marino, Elway, Kelly, Young, Montana…these guys are all just placeholders. When Peyton nears his 40th birthday, he will pass these records. There’s no doubt.

But…some day some kid out of some Div 1 school will come into the league and Peyton will become a placeholder, too. Right now, though, Peyton is that kid and those are his records to break, just as Marino, Kelly and Elway (what a class!) were those kids in their day. Go Peyton!

5. Give us your prediction for the game and for your season.

The game? I’m thinking this game will come down to 24-20 Colts victory.

The Colts are disciplined and fine-tuned on offense and their defense is becoming that with excellent leadership in Freeney and Sanders. The Broncos don’t have that cohesiveness…in the 90s, definitely, but not today. Some day they will fall into a cohesive pattern, but it’s not going to happen without a solid QB and RB tandem with two decent receiving options. (I think Cutler is a good beginning to this equation.) The Broncos defense has always and will always be competitive as long as Shanahan is there. But I think the Broncos need to find and fix those offensive shortfalls before they become what they were in the late ’90s. Elway didn’t make that team, the team made those Super Bowl squads.

The season? The Colts should pull out a 12-4 record by New Year’s. I see us losing to the Titans and the Jags once each, both on the second go-round. I also see the Bolts charging up by the time we meet them and losing that game in San Diego. The other loss will come from the epic Ray vs. Peyton matchups when sixteen audibles are called in the 15 seconds at the line of scrimmage on every play…that one goes to the impressive Ravens this year.

Playoffs won’t be a breeze. I see the Colts, Titans, Pats and Steelers being the real challengers in the AFC, though I see a still-struggling Chargers and maturing Broncos squads there to possibly throw a wrench in analysts’ spokes. But the Super Bowl will really be played in the AFC Championship as the NFC doesn’t have a single team that can match up to the AFC’s best.

Thanks again to Jonathon for taking the time to answer these questions, and for giving us some insight on the Colts and their fans this year. I get the feeling he hasn’t looked in depth at the Broncos offense this year and could be in for a surprise… the two Broncos receivers actually have more yards than Reggie and Marvin, and I think we’ve definitely found that triple threat. Just like Jonathon said in our correspondence, maybe we’ll be doing this again come playoff time!