Projected Record: 8-8
AFC South Rank: 2nd
On offense, the Colts made a lot of moves this offseason to build around star quarterback Andrew Luck and make sure that he can grow quickly and stay protected. In an effort to make sure that their young quarterback stays up straight and has time to throw, the Colts signed to new starting offense lineman, Cherilus and Thomas. Along with protecting Luck, the offensive linemen should improve the Colts’ rushing game. The 26th rushing attack from last season must improve if the Colts are going to reach the playoffs again next season. The Colts also signed running back Ahmad Bradshaw from the Giants. Bradshaw will bring experience and toughness to a young Colts team that has not won a lot at the pro level. Bradshaw is a good running back, when healthy, and will greatly benefit from the Colts trio of running backs. Each back will be given enough opportunities so that they can succeed and stay fresh at the end of the season. Along with adding help on the line and at the running back position, the Colts signed wide receiver Darrius Heyward Bay. The speedster is one of the fastest players in the league and will provide a deep threat for Luck and the Colts. After Bruce Arians went to the Cardinals, the Colts obtained the same OC that Luck and tight end Coby Fleener had during their days at Stanford.
On defense, the Colts totally changed their defense from the previous season. The Colts have six new starters this season and all were acquired via free agency or trade. Every part of the defense must learn to play with one another, which will be a challenge for the coaches. The Colts hope that they can improve their pass defense, 21st in NFL, and rush defense, 29th in NFL. The Colts expect that the addition of Erik Walden, Ricky Jean Francois, and Cory Redding on the defensive line will improve their horrible rush defense. In an attempt to improve the pass defense, the Colts signed LaRon Landry and Greg Toler and drafted pass rusher Bjoern Werner. Although the additions will enhance the team’s talent level, they must learn to play together and communicate well with each other. The Colts will miss the presence of Dwight Freeney. Although he does not have the speed or fitness to be effective for an entire game, he provided experience and taught the younger players how to play in the NFL and win at a high level. The Colts have a lot of players in their prime on defense, but their offense is constructed with younger players so the team is at a difficult point.
The Colts shocked the NFL by making the playoffs after having the first overall selection in the draft. Last year, they played an easier schedule so I do not believe that they will have the same success as last season. The Colts begin the season playing two of the worst teams in the NFL at home, Raiders and Dolphins. Luck and the boys should be able to win both of these games fairly easily. After a 2-0 start, the Colts head to the NFC champions where they will lose to the 49ers. Before the bye week, the Colts have a difficult stretch of games. The Colts play @Jaguars, Seahawks, @Chargers, and Broncos. The Colts will only beat the Jaguars on the road. The Seahawks are one of the best teams in the league. Although they will be on the road, they should be able to take down the Colts. The Chargers will be a difficult game because they are a good team at home. The Broncos are one of the best teams in football and will likely be the AFC champion this season.
Going into the bye, the Colts will have a 3-5 record and will likely be out of the playoff picture. The Colts begin the second half of the season by playing three of their first four games on the road. They will likely win two of the four games against the @Texans, Rams, @Titans, and @Cardinals. The Colts will beat up on the worst teams in the NFC West, Rams and Cardinals. The last five games of their schedule will flip flop between home games and away games. They play Titans, @Bengals, Texans, @Chiefs, and Jacksonville. The Colts will upset the Texans at home behind a raucous crowd that would love to see their team beat the defending division champions. They will beat the 3rd and 4th teams in the division at home because they are not talented teams. The Colts will win all of their remaining home games to get to 8 wins on the season. Although the 8 wins will not get them into the playoffs, they should be able to build off this successful season and play well the following season.
TY Hilton should continue to improve on his fabulous rookie season. In his rookie year, he catch 50 balls for 861 yards and scored 7 touchdowns for the Colts. The Colts do not have a solid number two receiver so Hilton could fill that void for the young Colts’ offense. Although Hilton is a small receiver, he is a great slot man because he has great hands and has the ability to gain yards after the catch. Hilton had numerous touchdowns where he out ran the defense and scored a touchdown or made a big play for the team. Hilton is a playmaker, which is good for a young quarterback. If Hilton can become a legit number two for the team, the Colts will score a lot of points on offense and put a lot of fear into their opponents.
On defense, LaRon Landry must have a huge season statistically and step up as a leader if the Colts defense will improve next year. After a stellar season with the Jets, Landry regained his valued and showed people why he was a top five pick for the Redskins a long time ago. The Colts defense is a mixture of a lot of players. However, the safety has the ability to orient the defense and make sure they are playing together. Landry has great physical abilities and is one of the most feared players in the league because of how hard he hits the ball. Along with being a great tackler and a run stopping safety, Landry has a knack for creating turnovers and giving the ball to the offense. If Laundry can stay healthy, the Colts’ defense will immediately improve and become more fearful. When Landry blows up the receivers, they fear going across the middle, which helps the defense dramatically.
All pics and stat from espn.com