2017 Indianapolis Colts Preview
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Key Additions: WR Kamar Aiken, RB Christine Michael, NT Jonathan Hankins, C Brian Schwenke, TE Brandon Williams, OLB Jabaal Sheard, OLB John Simon, ILB Sean Spence, ILB Jon Bostic, P Jeff Locke
Key Subtractions: TE Dwayne Allen, RB Robert Turbin, G Joe Reitz, NT Zach Kerr, G OLB Trent Cole, Hugh Thornton, ILB D’Qwell Jackson, DE Erik Walden, DT Arthur Jones, CB Patrick Robinson, S Mike Adams, P Pat McAfee
As with every season, the Colts will rely on their prolific aerial attack for the brunt of their offense. When star quarterback Andrew Luck is healthy, their passing offense is hard to contain to say the least. The three-time Pro Bowl selection played 15 games last season, and threw for over 4,200 yards to go with 31 touchdowns, as Indy finished in the top 10 in terms of passing offense and points scored.
Unfortunately, news recently came out of the Colts’ camp stating that Luck might miss the first six games of the upcoming season due to further complications with the surgery on his shoulder this January. This is, without a doubt, a huge blow for the team, as Scott Tolzien (nine games played, two TDs and seven INTs) is expected to fill in for Luck at that. And while the Colts finished 8-8 in 2015 (same with last season) even though Luck played just seven games then, they really can’t afford their best player to miss any time if they’re to make a strong playoff push.
Veteran running back Frank Gore, who became the oldest running back in the NFL to rush for over 1,000 yards last season at the age of 33, might not have enough left in his tank to carry the team on his shoulders as well.
The Colts’ defense still leaves little to be desired this 2017. The team ranked in the bottom-third of the league in both passing and rushing defense last season, as well as average points given up per contest. Newly-appointed general manager Chris Ballard didn’t do much to get some solid pieces for this unit this offseason, which means cornerback Vontae Davis virtually remains as the only bright spot in the D.
Apart from the defense, Luck’s health and productivity largely hinges on his offensive line, and that unit hasn’t seen any significant improvements during the offseason as well. Having said that, there’s clearly more turmoil than optimism about the Colts as we speak.
Key Player – Andrew Luck
If it isn’t obvious already, we can’t emphasize enough how integral Luck is to the team’s success. Indianapolis will sink without its star QB and without a dependable backup behind him in the depth chart. In Luck’s shortened 2015 campaign, he had former Super Bowl quarterback Matt Hasselbeck helping the team’s cause. The Colts no longer have a solid veteran play-caller on this year’s roster, though.
The running game won’t do much either with an elderly Gore expected to step up. Fourth-round rookie running back Marlon Mack could surprise many in his debut campaign, but he’ll have a questionable O-line to work with.
The news on Luck’s re-aggravated shoulder is still fresh, so there’s definitely time for him to rehabilitate and not miss close to half of the upcoming season. Then again, the Colts will want to protect their best asset at all costs. Could polarizing QB Colin Kaepernick finally find a new home? Indy would be wise to consider his services before it’s too late.
Key Game – at Tennessee (October 16)
This Monday night clash in the Music City will be the Colts’ first game of the season against a division rival. The Titans are projected as the current – albeit slim – favorite to win the AFC South this season (+190), and what better way for Indy to make a statement than to prevail with a win on the road against Marcus Mariota’s squad.
And as it stands, Week 6 could also be the final week that Luck will be on the sidelines based on his current timetable. If the Colts secure a win without Luck under center, that MNF victory will do wonders for their confidence entering their other divisional showdowns, proving yet again that anything can happen in the volatile AFC South.
2016 Team Stats
|Points per game||25.7 (#8)|
|Passing yards per game||262.6 (#5)|
|Rushing yards per game||101.8 (#23)|
|Scoring defense||24.5 (#22)|
The Colts, currently priced at +210 to win the AFC South, finish one game under the .500 mark and third in the division to miss the playoffs for the third-straight season.
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