Well, the Colts beat us twice, the first time being a true butt whoopin' (49-14 anyone?). The second time was a little more competitive, but we never really measured up. Fortunately/unfortunately, we did not play the Steelers or Patriots this year, so we'll never know.
BUT, yesterday's game was the FIRST win this season against a team with a winning record. That should tell us something.
Yeah, I believe in the "any given Sunday" concept, but this team just hasn't been consistent from week-to-week this year, and that is what playoff caliber teams should be about (at least in the AFC!
As far as improvements for next year...think about it...we have a great QB, WR corps, and TE...and D.Davis appears to be healthy and back on track. So it comes down to our O-line. Maybe another year tweaking the zone system, added with a little more talent at tackle, and we could have a dominating offense. We have most of the ingredients, and we just need that consistent play week in/week out, with trench control at the LOS, to make a top-tier team, IMO.
As far as defense, I think we are on the right track. The two glaring weaknesses that I see are safety and a pass rusher that dominates. Again, most
of the ingredients are there and we just need them to gel as a unit along with 2-3 more top players to give our D more depth of strategy.
Each year the chemistry of a given team seems to make or break success and failure with current NFL parity. So we just never know if any given year will be our year to make that magic run.
I do believe that we are now a full fledged NFL team, and we should start expecting big things. Perhaps I'm setting myself up, but that is the optimism of being a fan.