COMMENTARY | Bouncing back from the 2-14 debacle that was the 2011 season, the Indianapolis Colts posted an 11-5 regular season record and a trip to the AFC Playoffs in 2012. What can we expect in 2013?
The NFL schedule-maker was quite kind to the Colts this year, giving Indianapolis several very winnable games. In fact, they have the third-easiest schedule in the league behind the San Diego Chargers and Peyton Manning's Denver Broncos. The Colts also play their first two games of the year within the friendly confines of Lucas Oil Stadium, where they went 7-1 in 2012.
The season opens on Sept. 8 with the Oakland Raiders (4-12 in 2012) coming to town. After suffering through 2012 with one of the worst offenses in the NFL, the Raiders brought in Matt Flynn at quarterback in an effort to generate some sort of passing attack that will allow opponents to stop focusing on Darren McFadden. Nevertheless, I like the Colts to be 1-0 coming out of the gates.
The next four weeks--home against the Miami Dolphins (7-9), on the road against the San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1), at the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14) and home against the Seattle Seahawks (11-5)--features a bunch of the young, exciting quarterbacks in the NFL. Watching Andrew Luck duke it out with fellow young guns Ryan Tannehill, Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson over that period of time will be fun. And then there's Blaine Gabbert, who may or may not still be under center for the Jaguars. I see the Colts going 2-2, with losses against the NFC West teams.
A road trip to take on the Chargers (7-9) will result in a close, hard-fought victory, but Manning returns to a hero's welcome in Indianapolis the week after and promptly shows Luck who still reigns supreme in Colts fans' hearts as the Broncos (13-3) come out on top in the battle of the horses. Indy heads into the bye week with a 4-3 record but has made it through the toughest part of its schedule.
Coming out of the bye, the Colts sink their teeth into division play. The Houston Texans (13-3) are good, but the Colts have a long history of beating them, so it's reasonable to expect a season split, even if Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and Arian Foster all manage to stay healthy that far into the season--which, given recent history, doesn't seem likely.
The Tennessee Titans (6-10) don't particularly worry me with Jake Locker at quarterback and feast-or-famine Chris Johnson in the backfield. Couple that with last season's most porous defense in the league and the fact that the Colts have won this matchup nine of the past 10 times, and I like two victories for Indy.
The Colts better not lose to the Jaguars in their second tilt.
Outside of the division, Indianapolis faces the St. Louis Rams (7-8-1), the Arizona Cardinals (5-11), the Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) and the Kansas City Chiefs (2-14 and outscored by 214 points last year).
The Rams were better than their record indicated last year, but it will be interesting to see how Sam Bradford fares without Steven Jackson taking pressure off of him with the running game. The lack of a ground attack will allow the Colts to focus on rookie wide receiver Tavon Austin and shut him down. I like the Colts to win at home in this one.
Bruce Arians was a hero last year after filling in for an ill Chuck Pagano for most of the season, but even he's going to have a hard time turning around the second-worst offense in the NFL with Carson Palmer as his quarterback and Rashard Mendenhall as his running back. Colts win in Phoenix.
I recently wrote about the lack of a rivalry between the Colts and the Bengals despite their proximity on the map. A game between the two neighboring teams hasn't held any significant meaning since 1970. That may change this year, though, as the two teams meet in December and both are likely be gunning for playoff spots at that point.
Andy Dalton and A.J. Green are one of the more lethal combinations in the NFL, and an already tough Bengals defense just added linebacker James Harrison. I like Cincinnati at home on a cold day.
Kansas City will be better this season with Andy Reid at head coach and Alex Smith at quarterback, but still, shut down Jamaal Charles and you shut down the Chiefs. They have a long way to go to shore up that bad defense, too. Colts win.
A repeat of last year's 11-5 record seems the most likely expectation, and the Colts will make another trip to the playoffs as a wild card.
Everyone wholeheartedly agrees with me, right?
The author is a resident of central Indiana and a longtime follower of the Colts.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Indianapolis Colts