Everybody knows who "The Man" is in Indianapolis. The Colts are Peyton Manning's team. He is without question the engine that drives the Colts. Without him, they would be nothing.
All right, with all of that having been said, let's turn our attention to the second-most important thing happening in Indianapolis these days. In the final analysis, this little gem could be as important to the Colts' Super Bowl hopes as their quarterback is.
Ladies and gentlemen, very quietly, almost without detection, the team from the Hoosier state that is scoring points and gaining chunks of yardage at a frightening pace, is also running the ball and stopping the run.
So what? Who cares?
Well, you can bet Tony Dungy cares.
Dungy is preparing his team for the postseason. He's preparing a dome team to move outside in January; to play, potentially, in Pittsburgh or New England. Dungy is turning his Colts into a cold-weather, postseason club that, on a windy, snowy day in the northeast, will be capable of playing "run the ball/stop the run" football.
Look at the league rankings this week. Yeah, the Colts have the number one passing game, but we already know what Manning can do with the ball. Look at the Colts' rush-offense and rush-defense rankings; ninth and 15th and headed upward.
Don't be misled by the Colts' overall defensive ranking, 31st. That's all a result of their horrible pass-defense, which is also ranked 31st. The Colts' run-defense is significantly improved over last season, when it was 20th.
Look at that rush-offense stat, too. Last year the Colts were 19th.
It is the difference in the Colts this year. They are 10 places higher in rush-offense and five places higher in rush-defense. That's major improvement in the two-most important postseason football categories.
What were they in pass-offense last year? First, of course. They're always first. They have the best passing game in the league, by far. But they couldn't get it done in the snow in New England last January, and Dungy knows why. Simply put, you gotta have more than one thing if you're gonna go to the Super Bowl.
This year, the Colts have more than one thing, and much of that gain has occurred since the Jaguars won in Indianapolis on Oct. 24. This year, if their current trend continues, the Colts may have what it takes to go all the way.
They have Manning, and he's big, but now they appear to have the cold-weather game to go with him.