NFL Preview- Indianapolis Colts
Moving on in our NFL Preview, we head into to AFC South. First up are the Indianapolis Colts. Chuck Pagano and Andrew Luck have enjoyed a strong first two years together-- including Pagano beating cancer. The Colts both won the division last year and a huge comeback playoff win against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Andrew Luck has established himself as the face of the Colts and the man under center for years to come. Reggie Wayne returns from his torn ACL as the top receiver. Hakeen Nicks was added to provided Luck more options to go along with T.Y. Hilton. At tight end, Luck has both Dwane Allen and Coby Fleener as weapons.
At running back, the Colts return Trent Richardson, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Vick Ballard. Entering his third season and first full season with Indy, Richardson needs to prove that he is not a bust and is a viable number one option. Bradshaw was having a good year last year before going down with an injury. While he seems the least likely choice to be the top man, Ballard has certainly played like he may earn the job.
On defense, Robert Mathis returns to lead the pass rush and with hopes that the Indy defense stronger than it has been known to be. Tackle-machine D'Qwell Jackson was brought in to help make that defense able to make consistent stops. Safety LaRon Landry is one of the leaders on defense and the pass defense.
Let's break down their 2014 season:
Week 1- The Colts open up in Denver. If this match-up is anything like last season's, this will be a scoring frenzy. Like last year, the home team will survive and get the win. Indy starts 0-1.
Week 2- Indy opens up at home on Monday Night with Philadelphia. The Eagles have a high-octane offense, but Luck and company have enough to keep up. The pass rush of Mathis will be the difference. Colts improve to 1-1.
Week 3- Indy gets an easy win in Jacksonville and the over-matched Jaguars. They get to 2-1.
Week 4- The Colts return home to face the Tennessee Titans. Even with the Titans tough defense, the Colts pull off the win. Colts are 3-1.
Week 5- They stay home for the Baltimore Ravens and that tough defense. Colts get the last second victory in a tough one. They make it a four-game winning streak to get to 4-1.
Week 6- The Colts head to Houston four days later to extend their win streak going. Now 5-1.
Week 7- Indy hosts the tough Bengals next. The game could be a tough one for the Colts. They drop to 5-2.
Week 8- They head to Pittsburgh next and find a way to get back to their winning ways. Indy improves to 6-2.
Week 9- The Colts next head to Metlife Stadium to face the Giants. Eli Manning and squad are looking at a long year again. Colts get to 7-2.
Week 10- A nice break from hard work.
Week 11- They host a huge match-up with the New England Patriots on Sunday Night. Like they did a year ago against Peyton Manning and the Broncos, the home-field advantage leads to a victory. Colts are now 8-2.
Week 12- In the second of three-straight home games, the Colts take care of business against the Jaguars for the sweep. Improve to 9-2.
Week 13- In a match-up of Class of 2012 Draft QBs , Robert Griffin III finds just a tad more success with his mobility staying away from Mathis. Colts drop to 9-3.
Week 14- They head to Cleveland and the Browns led by rookie Johnny Manziel-- unless the Browns are having a good year with Brian Hoyer, they will turn to Manziel at some point in the year. Colts get the win and improve to 10-3.
Week 15- They host the Texans, who could be showing signs of improvement-- especially with the pass rush of J.J. Watt and rookie Jadeveon Clowney. Colts earn the sweep either way and get to 11-3.
Week 16- Indy heads to AT&T Stadium to face the Dallas Cowboys. While on paper the Colts are the better team, Tony Romo and company find a way to earn the victory at home. Indy drops to 11-4, but have clinched the division at this point.
Week 17- The Colts end their season in Tennessee. While they have the division sown up they still need the win to possibly earn a bye and get straight to the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Luck finds a way to earn the win and get the Colts to 12-4.
The Colts should be able to easily win the AFC South as the other three teams involved are in some state of rebuilding. Only tough matches with Philadelphia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and New England can keep Indy from earning a week off in the playoffs. Depending on the success with either Hoyer or Manziel, Cleveland might also be a tough match-up for the Colts. With that being said the worst record the Colts could have is 10-6, but they could jump up to 13-3 with stellar performances against either Washington or Dallas.