The Colts have wasted some of the best years of Andrew Luck’s career.
Indianapolis hasn’t had a losing season since Luck came to town, but back-to-back .500 seasons was finally enough to get general manager Ryan Grigson fired. Chuck Pagano is somehow still the coach of this team, but there’s no doubt he’s on a tremendously toasty chair.
For the first time in a while, the Colts seem to have made some prudent moves in the offseason. That might see them get back to the top of the AFC South where they probably belong.
Why the Colts Will Overachieve in 2017
Gone is the idea of the splashy, big-name free agent signings and in is the much more prudent era of signees. Sean Spence, Jabaal Sheard, Barkevious Mingo and John Simon weren’t the most notable free agent pickups, nor was Malik Hooker considered to be an elite draft pick. But these five men turn Indianapolis’ defense from one that was No. 30 in the NFL in yards against to a top 10 unit.
Of course, the third-easiest schedule that includes six games against the Texans, Titans and Jaguars helps out tremendously. The Colts only play one game against a 2016 playoff team before November’s trip to Houston, and they capitalize in a big way by starting 6-2 in their first eight games.
The real key though, is keeping Luck upright. We know he can be elite when he’s protected, but that’s never really happened consistently. But this year, somehow the Colts come up with the right line combination and allow the tenth-fewest number of sacks in the league, which is a vast improvement. And with a little more time in the pocket, Luck becomes an MVP candidate by throwing for 4,500 yards and 35 touchdowns.
Eleven regular season wins puts Indy back in the playoffs. After a Week 17 win over the Texans to clinch the AFC South, Pagano comes out for his postgame presser and sarcastically dedicates the season to Grigson.
Why the Colts Will Underachieve in 2017
Even though the Colts addressed their defensive needs in the offseason, they didn’t fix their offensive line. Former first round pick Anthony Castonzo becomes the most-known left tackle in the league for all the wrong reasons. He’s responsible for getting Luck sacked a dozen times on the season, including the one that ultimately sees him knocked out and missing games for the third straight year.
Scott Tolzien isn’t a legitimate NFL backup, and the Colts kick themselves for not investing in a real insurance policy for Luck during the offseason. The results are predictable: 11 losses and the end of Pagano in Indy.
After yet another season missing out on the playoffs, the Colts are trolled by Grigson, who comes out after the last game of the year and says that the last few years of misery were all Pagano’s fault. Jim Irsay is popped for another DUI while popping depression pills to cope with the carnage.
2017 Indianapolis Colts Schedule
Week 1: at Rams
Week 2: vs. Cardinals
Week 3: vs. Browns
Week 4: at Seahawks
Week 5: vs. 49ers
Week 6: at Titans
Week 7: vs. Jaguars
Week 8: at Bengals
Week 9: at Texans
Week 10: vs. Steelers
Week 11: Bye
Week 12: vs. Titans
Week 13: at Jaguars
Week 14: at Bills
Week 15: vs. Broncos
Week 16: at Ravens
Week 17: vs. Texans
Colts Pick ‘Em Contest Best Bet: Week 12 vs. Titans
Those playing in our NFL Pick ‘Em Contests should know that Indianapolis has won 10 of its last 12 games off of bye weeks, including beating the Titans at home last year. It’s basically the exact same scenario this season. Tennessee will have a long week of preparation after playing against Pittsburgh the week before on Thursday Night Football, but this is a fourth straight really tough game for the Titans. The NFL schedule-makers give us some obvious spots to bet on teams from time to time, and this is one of them.
Colts Pick ‘Em Contest Top Fade: Week 2 vs. Cardinals
The Cardinals led the NFL in sacks a season ago, and that could create some real problems for Luck and the Indianapolis offense. Furthermore, the Arizona offense has the feel of one that could frustrate the Colts. David Johnson should still be relatively fresh early in the season, and he could be in for a big day. Last year, a comparable Le’Veon Bell had 142 all-purpose yards and a touchie in a 28-7 Steelers victory against the Colts. Indy should be favored in Week 2, but we still have no problem picking against it with former assistant Bruce Arians coming back to town.