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Robert Mathis: Indianapolis Colts are Super Bowl-ripe

Digging through my notes from Super Bowl week, I came across a discussion with Colts pass rusher Robert Mathis, who met with Around The League at "NFL Honors" on the night before the Seahawks slaughtered the Broncos.

Fresh off a season that saw Indy beat both Super Bowl entrants, I asked Mathis if the Colts were next in line to represent the AFC.

"I think so," he said. "I really do feel like we are one of the teams to be reckoned with. We have a lot of missing pieces back, we have our quarterback with another year of experience, and I definitely think we have the tools to get it done."

Mathis pointed to the growth of young Andrew Luck and a developing defense that proved early in the season that Peyton Manning's Broncos were mortal. Mathis spoke about that game -- a 39-33 victory over Denver in Week 7 -- telling of how Indy's pass rushers got to Manning when nobody else could.

"I would give our DBs a lot of credit," Mathis said. "You have to be physical with their receivers, try to get them off track, disrupt their timing -- and they gave us that extra second we needed to get to the quarterback."

That matches up with what Seahawks edge rusher Chris Clemons told Around The League about the blueprint Seattle used to beat Denver, saying: "We knew our DBs would jam up those receivers and disrupt their timing a little bit, and it was only a matter of time before we got to (Manning). Rush and coverage always play together."

Back to Mathis and the Colts: Indy fell off a cliff for weeks after wide receiver Reggie Wayne tore up his knee; and the defense was messy down the stretch. But at full strength, this team overpowered the 'Hawks, Broncos and 49ers in a five-week stretch that had our gang of scribes calling Indy the most physical team in the AFC.

If the Colts correctly navigate this critical offseason ahead, Mathis might be on to something.

In the latest "Around The League Podcast," the guys ponder the future in both Seattle and Denver and break down the teams who intrigue them most this offseason.

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