The biggest question left in the National Football League season is not which teams will make the playoffs but whether the Indianapolis Colts can go the entire season without losing.
The Colts are a perfect 12-0 (12 wins and no losses). To go undefeated, they must win their four remaining regular season games and three in the playoffs, including the Super Bowl.
The Colts are a special team. Peyton Manning is the best quarterback in the NFL. Don't talk to me about Tom Brady's three Super Bowl rings with New England, Carson Palmer's breakout season in Cincinnati or Michael Vick's scrambles for Atlanta. Manning is The Man. This season he has thrown 25 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. He completes more than two out of every three passes.
Manning does not have to do it alone. The Colts also have Edgerrin James, a do-everything running back who is second in the NFL in rushing with 1,347 yards. Add two terrific receivers, Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, and the Colts can score in bunches. They are averaging more than 30 points a game.
The Colts have been high-scoring ever since Manning took control. The big difference this season is the defense. Led by sack-master ends Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney, the Colts have the highest-rated defense in the American Football Conference. As a result, they don't have to score 40 points every game to win.
So can the Colts do it? Can they go undefeated?
It will be tough. Only the 1972 Miami Dolphins have had a perfect NFL season. The Dolphins won 17 games, including Super Bowl VII against the Redskins, with a powerful running game and a rock-'em, sock-'em crew called "The No-Name Defense." But the Dolphins had an easy schedule. They beat only two teams with winning records during the regular season, which was only 14 games then.
The Colts have a much tougher schedule ahead. They play three very good teams -- the Jacksonville Jaguars (9-3), San Diego Chargers (8-4) and Seattle Seahawks (10-2) -- in the next three weeks. If the Colts have a perfect season, they will have earned it.
I am rooting for Indianapolis to go all the way. Why? First, Colts Coach Tony Dungy is supposed to be one of the nice guys in pro sports. I root for nice guys. Second, I love the team's helmets. Third, I laugh out loud every time I see those ads where Manning is rooting for people doing regular jobs, like the one in which he chants "De-caf . . . De-caf . . ." as a waitress pours coffee.
Finally, I want the Colts to go 19-0 this season because the players from the 1972 Dolphins have been terrible sports about their record. They root against any team that comes close to going undefeated. They even celebrate when those teams finally lose.
So I say, "Go Colts! Beat the 1972 Dolphins!" -- and everybody else this season.
Fred Bowen writes KidsPost's Friday sports opinion column and is the author of sports novels for kids.