It’s been a great run for the Indianapolis Colts.

Bill Belichick and the Patriots have cemented themselves as the team of the 2000s.

Bill Belichick and the Patriots have solidified themselves as the team of the 2000s.

Since 1999 they’ve missed the playoffs just once, put up a Super Bowl banner, and have won 12 or more games over the past six seasons – an NFL record.

Still, it seems something is missing.

Aside from their Super Bowl run, the Colts are just 3-6 in the postseason since 1999. They were humiliated 41-0 by the Jets in 2002, and their high-octane offense sputtered during back-to-back postseason exits in frigid Foxboro in 2003 and 2004 – combining for just 17 points in those games.

The Colts earned redemption by beating the Patriots en route to a Super Bowl XLI victory in 2007, but as of now, the 2000s still belong to New England – winners of three Super Bowls this decade.

With Tony Dungy nearing the end and Peyton Manning in his prime, the time is now for the Colts to elevate themselves to the Patriots’ level of success.

As former Colts’ kicker Mike Vanderjagt would say, the Lombardi Trophy is “ripe for the picking” this season.

With Tom Brady shelved just minutes into the 2008 season, the playoffs won’t feature the Patriots for the first time since 2002.

Entering Week 12, the Giants and Titans were both unbeaten and looked untouchable … but a bullet to Plaxico Burress’ leg and the Titans losing three of their last six contests has proven both teams are mortal.

The Steelers and their brick wall of a defense could be the team to beat, but Ben Roethlisberger’s health is an ongoing concern.

Despite the flashy 12-4 record and nine-game win streak, the Colts have major chinks in the armor as well. They can’t run, they can’t stop the run, and they’ll begin the playoffs without defensive captain Gary Brackett.

But in a playoff field muddled with good, but not great teams … the Colts seem to have as good a shot as anyone.

They have postseason experience, one of the best quarterbacks around, and possess the ability to win on the road – their 6-2 road record is tied for tops in the league. And with the exception of the Dolphins, the Colts have defeated each of their potential AFC playoff foes this season – though their Week 17 win over the Titans meant nothing.

This year’s NFL playoffs features parody at its best, illustrated by all four of this weekend’s home teams being pegged as underdogs by Vegas in the wild-card round.

With Brady and Bill Belichick watching from their couches, the door of opportunity is wide open for the Colts – only time will tell if they’ll walk through it.

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