More than likely, they're just that good.
We'll never know if Peyton Manning and friends could have gone undefeated in the regular season -- Indianapolis management and the coaching staff took care of that -- but what we do know is they're one win from the Super Bowl after trampling the Baltimore Ravens 20-3 in the AFC Divisional round Saturday night at raucous Lucas Oil Stadium.
"Being healthy was what was important," Manning said.
Three weeks after being booed by their home crowd for benching starters and tanking a Week 16 meeting against the New York Jets in the club's first loss of the season, a franchise-record crowd exulted the Colts in a victory that was equally decisive on both sides of the ball.
"I think they were behind us," Indy coach Jim Caldwell said of the fans on a night he celebrated his first career playoff victory and his 55th birthday. "That's kind of what you would expect of our folks."
Now those numbers mean as much to the Indy faithful as that Jets game of three weeks ago.
"We understood what they wanted," defensive end Raheem Brock said. "But they weren't looking at the big picture."
They are now. The Colts (15-2) will host the winner of Sunday's divisional match between the Jets (10-7) and San Diego Chargers (13-3) in next Sunday's AFC Championship Game.
"I just thought it was a heckuva an effort by them," Baltimore coach Jim Harbaugh said after the Ravens dropped an eighth straight game to the Colts. "The kind of game you've got to play in a game like this."
The Colts, going all out to win for the first since a Dec. 17 victory at Jacksonville, weren't their normally high-powered selves on offense, but made up for it with a defensive effort that looked awfully Ravens-like in shutting down Baltimore's blue-collar ground game and frustrating second-year quarterback Joe Flacco.
Manning completed 30 of 44 passes for 246 yards and two scores, both in the first half, as the Colts opened a two-touchdown halftime margin that the Ravens (10-8) weren't easily going to overcome. Defensively, a unit that struggled during the regular season against the run (allowing 125.6 yards per game) held Baltimore to a mere 87 yards, with tailback Ray Rice, a week removed from shredding New England for 159, held to 67 yards on just 13 carries. Rice's longest run of the game went for 20 yards -- and he fumbled at the end of it, one of four Baltimore turnovers.
"Defense was tremendous," Caldwell said.
Flacco, who completed just four passes last week in a 34-14 wipeout of New England, went 20 of 35 for 189 yards and two interceptions.
"They know how to play what they do well," Flacco said. "They're able to react quickly and defend quickly. That's what they say about [their] group of guys -- they play with speed and react to the ball."
The Colts seized command in the second quarter when they broke open a 3-3 game with back-to-back touchdown marches, the latter made possible by shrewd Indy clock management.
"Perfect pass," Collie said.
On the Ravens ensuing possession, the Colts took their first timeout after a 4-yard Rice run on first down. After Flacco threw two incompletions to force a Ravens punt, Manning had the ball again at his 36 with plenty of time (1:26) to do some more damage. And he did.
Four straight completions and a pass interference penalty against Foxworth put the ball at the Baltimore 14. Then with 11 seconds left, out of timeouts and working from the 4, Indy did not play it safe. Manning dumped a short pass over the middle -- and short of the goal line -- that Reggie Wayne, luckily for the Colts, could not control. He was covered. Time would have run out.
With just seven seconds showing, Indy kept kicker Matt Stover on the sideline and gambled with Manning and another play.
"He's been around the block a few times," Caldwell said.
Again, the Colts went across the middle to Wayne. This time, he caught the ball and nudged across the goal line while in the arms of two Baltimore defenders and just three seconds to play. Stover's point-after made it 17-3 at halftime.
In the third quarter, Baltimore got the play it was looking for to get back in the game; unfortunately for the Ravens, Indianapolis made one right back.
Safety Ed Reed intercepted a deep ball for Pierre Garcon and raced nearly 40 yards up the sidelines -- and deep into Indy territory -- until Garcon chased the All-Pro down from behind and punched the ball from Reed's arms.
Colts tight end Dallas Clark recovered.
From there it was bye-bye to all that bye talk.
"You heard a lot about how we can't win coming off the bye. I thought it was a myth," Manning said. "I didn't believe it."
A few weeks ago, NFL fans (especially here) couldn't believe the Colts punted their chance at perfection. They're in a little more of a forgiving mood now, no doubt.
"I don't think so," Wayne said. "Probably the further we go, the more upset they'll get. But we'll take it. That's how it is. The way to help our cause is to win the Super Bowl. We took another step today."
No rest for the ready.