As much as the Colts may say they're excited about hosting the AFC Championship game next week, the fact that they will face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots must be lingering in the back of their collective minds.
Tom Brady is Peyton Manning's kryptonite.
Bill Belichik has a hammer lock on Tony Dungy.
The Chargers loss to the Patriots this evening sends New England back to the AFC Championship game for the fourth time in six years. And each of the previous three times they've made it this far, they have gone all the way.
The last time the Colts won an AFC Championship game, it was the innaugrual conference championship game, and they were still in Baltimore.
Many believe this is Peyton Manning's year. He's won two postseason games in one year for the first time in his career. The shaky Colts defense has somehow found its footing the last two weeks, shutting down very capable running backs.
But the Colts are facing something much greater than any one player next week when they host the Patriots.
They are playing their own curse.
Peyton Manning has beaten Tom Brady in their last two match ups, but you can bet that means nothing to the Colts until they get the Patriots' playoff monkey off their backs.
If there is any doubt of the Patriots dynasty, this weekend's conference championship game will silence any critics.
If you remember Super Bowl XXVI, when they were double-digit underdogs to St. Louis' Greatest Show on Turf, they were the first to - as Pat Summerall so eloquently put it - chose to be "introduced as a team." They've carried that team concept for the last half-decade. They win with that team concept.
The Colts may have home field, a hot defense and Adam Vinetieri, but make no mistake: the road to Super Bowl XLI goes through the New England Patriots.