Indianapolis Colts are surprise playoff threats, as are opposing Miami Dolphins

If the NFL playoffs were to start next week, today’s 1 p.m. matchup between the Indianapolis Colts and the Miami Dolphins, both 4-3, would decide a wild-card spot.

The two franchises were a combined 8-24 in 2011.

But their surprising presences in the postseason conversation — albeit in a weakened AFC — go to show that the nature of the NFL game (and impressive rookie quarterbacks) allow for such turnarounds if a team has underrated talent elsewhere on its roster.

That is the case with these two clubs, who according to NFL.com will participate in the first-ever meeting between two top-10 draft-pick quarterbacks with winning records at this point in their rookie seasons.

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Indianapolis Colts’ Andrew Luck showing promise entering third game against Jacksonville Jaguars

Andrew Luck was billed as the most NFL-ready quarterback prospect since Peyton Manning — some even said John Elway.

It seems fitting, then, that the 23-year-old rookie was drafted first overall by the Indianapolis Colts, the franchise that drafted both Manning and Elway (the latter forced a trade from the franchise when it was in Baltimore) with the top pick.

While the expectations of Luck have been enormous, he has shown promise in his first two starts as the Colts’ quarterback. He’ll look to build on that promise at 1 p.m. today as the Colts (1-1) play host to their division rivals, the Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) at Lucas Oil Stadium.

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The Great Unknown: 2012 Indianapolis Colts preview

The Indianapolis Colts have endured quite the eventful — and often turbulent — offseason in 2012.

The firings of Vice Chairman Bill Polian, GM Chris Polian and coach Jim Caldwell. The hires of GM Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano.

The release of quarterback Peyton Manning, the greatest and most iconic Indianapolis Colt of all time, and the subsequent cuts of long-time fan favorites Joseph Addai, Gary Brackett, Melvin Bullitt and Dallas Clark.

The selection of Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck — the franchise’s cornerstone for the future — with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.

And on the not-so-bright side, the fan backlash at owner Jim Irsay and the club, particularly for parting with Manning and for announcing just weeks ago the Colts would black out home games that weren’t 100-percent sold out despite a new league rule that allows a minimum 85-percent attendance to air games.

After all this uber-whirlwind of change and drama surrounding the Colts, it’s finally, thankfully, time to play some football.

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Indianapolis Colts 2012 NFL Draft preview: Andrew Luck, then what?

New Indianapolis Colts GM Ryan Grigson made official Tuesday what we all pretty much knew back in January: the franchise will select Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the No. 1 pick in today’s NFL Draft.

Luck is billed as the most pro-ready quarterback prospect to enter the league since Peyton Manning, the man he’s succeeding in Indianapolis. Some would go even further back and call Luck the surest thing since fellow Stanford great John Elway.

While I personally think such opinions are a bit overkill, I do think very highly of Luck, and I believe he can be the Colts’ next franchise signal-caller for many years to come. Given the recent organizational overhaul in Indy, however, quarterback is far from this team’s only thin spot. The Colts could use talent upgrades everywhere.

The fun, analytically speaking, starts with the No. 34 pick.

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