For the Indianapolis Colts, the expectations are sky high in 2014. They ran the gauntlet in 2013, harpooning NFL juggernauts like the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos. They will soon have the best quarterback in the league once Peyton Manning and Tom Brady retire as by that point Andrew Luck will have taken that next step as a pro.
7. Indianapolis Colts (2013 Record: 11-5)
The only knock I have on this team is that they can't be trusted. Sure, they took down the three best teams in the NFL last year, but they also lost to the St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals. What? How do you lose to those two, but manhandle those other two teams from that division? Of course, that heroic comeback defeat against the Kansas City Chiefs is something that will go down in NFL history, so who knows.
Key Losses: Antoine Bethea, Donald Brown, Kavell Conner, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jeffrey Linkenbach, Cassius Vaughn
Key Acquisitions: Mike Adams, Phil Costa, D'Qwell Jackson, Arthur Jones, Hakeem Nicks
The Colts draft was fairly ho hum, so don't expect must improvement there. Free agency was also a wash, with fairly equal talent leaving as did arrive. Where does that leave this team? Slightly better than last year, based solely on Luck progressing another year as a pro. Losing Robert Mathis for the first few games of the season will be a blow, but that could mean he will be fresh for a Super Bowl run that some think this team is destined for in 2014.
Given that the Colts 2014 schedule is filled mostly with cupcakes or mediocre teams, they should win the AFC South easily and maybe even a first round Bye if the Broncos can't fight through their brutal schedule for 12 wins. It could come down to that Week 1 matchup with the Broncos for that Bye week in January.
Projected Record: 11-5
Kyle: The Colts beat the Chiefs, the 49ers, the Broncos, and the Seahawks in 2013. On the other hand, they also lost to the Dolphins, the Rams, and the Cardinals (badly). Sure, the Reggie Wayne injury hurt them, but it’s this type of hot-and-cold performance you can expect from a young quarterback like Andrew Luck. We’ll see if he can elevate Indy into a Top 3-5 team in 2014.
Jon: We can’t expect Peyton to throw seven TDs in this year’s season opener, but we can expect the same result as last year. After getting whomped by the Broncos in Week 1, Indy will rebound to make the playoffs before getting whomped by Denver again, in Denver.
Mike: I put the Colts this high based purely on Andrew Luck. But the defense is very suspect and I did not see a good effort to correct that in the offseason. Almost reminds you of the 80’s Broncos teams.
Laurie: Andrew Luck is a solid quarterback, and if his offensive weapons are healthy, they’ll be contenders once again.
Topher: The Colts are not a talented team, most of their wins came purely from Andrew Luck’s skill and will. Their defense is young and lacking talent in their secondary and their offense is quite aged or just terrible (trading a 1st for Trent Richardson is even dumber than the Browns drafting Richardson where they did). Andrew Luck is a great QB on a bad team, he’ll win a lot of games and he is benefited from a weak division, because if he was in the NFC this wouldn’t be a playoff team.
Jacob: Andrew Luck has found ways to win games without much help from the team around him. This season he’ll have Hakeem Nicks (when not injured) and rookie Donte Moncrief to go along with Hilton, Wayne, and Fleener in the passing game, which will have to thrive with the absolutely abysmal running attack in Indy. The Colts’ already-questionable secondary lost a key piece in Antoine Bethea in the off-season, and would be in for a rough go if they didn’t have six games against Blake Bortles, Tom Savage, and Jake Locker in store. The Colts will top the AFC South with ease, but will have a hard time making a deep playoff run until they add more pieces around their franchise QB. 10-12 wins.
Pete: I love me some Andrew Luck, but did the Colts do enough in the offseason to continue their dominance over their division? Their defense took a hit with the Mathis suspension, and who knows if Reggie Wayne will recover from his ACL in order to be the dominant force he use to be. Lucky for them, I don’t see any other team in their division bridging that gap (unless Houston finds a QB), so I see yet another playoff appearance for this team. Will they finally make some noise in the playoffs? That story has yet to be written.