Preseason Power Rankings No. 8: Indianapolis Colts

AP

The Colts are realizing the true benefit bottoming out.

With quarterback Andrew Luck at the helm of their offense, there’s a floor that they’re simply not going to fall through.

Playing in a division that is unsettled at best and ridiculous at worst (it occupied three of the bottom eight spots in our Preseason Power Rankings), the Colts should easily own the top spot in the AFC South barring a calamitous injury.

This year’s additions weren’t as dramatic as last year’s spending, but they added depth to an already good team, the kind of thing you’re able to do when your quarterback is both excellent and on a cheap rookie contract.

Winning 11 games each of the last two years has raised expectations, so this year will be about the Colts taking that next step.

Strengths.

The Colts have quietly developed a deep stable of targets for Luck to throw to.

If Reggie Wayne returns to anything resembling his old form, he’ll join with T.Y. Hilton and Hakeem Nicks (who came on a one-year prove-it deal) as a very good receiving corps.

They also have problem-child Da’Rick Rogers and Griff Whalen in reserve, giving them developmental players for the future.

But perhaps the biggest boost will be getting tight end Dwayne Allen back from injury to pair with Coby Fleener, giving the Colts plenty of options in the passing game.

Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton would love to call a traditional grind-it-out game, but given the weapons at his disposal, spreading the field and using multiple formations is the right thing to do.

Weaknesses.

It sure would help if the Colts could find some balance in their offense with the running game.

And it sure would help if Trent Richardson ever proved to be worthy of the first-round pick they gave up to acquire him.

Richardson averaged 2.9 yards per carry after coming over from the Browns last year, hardly what they were hoping for or needed. He admitted it was hard learning a new offense, so it’s reasonable to give him this year as a fresh start.

Then again, some help up front would also help.

The Colts offensive line has underperformed despite some big investments the last few offseasons, and finding a center and some stability in that group would pay big dividends.

Second-round pick Jack Mewhort has seen work at center, guard and tackle during the offseason, and he could add an element of toughness that they need.

There’s also the small matter of how they’ll rush the passer in the first four games, with Robert Mathis out following a PED suspension. That could cost them significantly as they open with the Broncos and Eagles, before they start division play with the Jaguars and Titans.

Changes.

The Colts didn’t make wholesale moves this offseason, but they made three significant ones which should help their defense.

Keeping cornerback Vontae Davis with a four-year, $39 million extension was the first big step, as they could ill afford to lose one of the top cover men in the AFC.

But adding linebacker D’Qwell Jackson and defensive end Arthur Jones will add some heft and legitimacy to a defense that was too often pushed around last year.

After losing safety Anotine Bethea to San Francisco, they need LaRon Landry to be a more consistent producer.

Camp Battles.

The Colts have some decisions to make at guard, as Donald Thomas is coming off two muscle tears, making it hard to know how much he can be counted on.

Mewhort worked at left guard during OTAs, but they also have Hugh Thornton as a possibility. The Colts think Lance Louis can add something as well, and seeing how that position shakes out will be huge as they try to run the ball more consistently.

They also have running backs Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard coming off injuries, and they would love to have one of them ready to go if Richardson isn’t able to carry the load as expected.

Finding a safety to station next to Landry will also be a toss-up, as the Colts have a host of candidates for that job including Mike Adams, Colt Anderson along with holdovers such as Sergio Brown.

Prospects.

It’s easy to have high expectations for the Colts, as they practically have six wins in the bank by function of playing in the AFC South.

The Texans are good on defense, and the Jaguars are improving, but there’s no reason for the Colts to not roll through this group.

But a division title isn’t the goal for this bunch, as Manning found out more than a decade ago.

The Colts have something of a narrow window with this group because of Luck’s pending contract situation.

They have the ability to add parts now while he’s on a cheap rookie-scale deal, and they have bought aggressively in free agency. Of course, not all those deals look like bargains.

When they have to start paying Luck real money, it will be harder to make wholesale changes, so they have to hope they have a solid base in place.

Last year’s comeback win over the Chiefs in the playoffs was a solid first step, but the Colts are still punching over their weight (or at least their age) when they come up against the big guns of the AFC.

49 responses to “Preseason Power Rankings No. 8: Indianapolis Colts

  1. I hate this team for blatantly tanking a season just to get Luck. That being said, no one can argue it hasn’t paid off.

    Of course, playing in the weakest division in the league doesn’t hurt them either.

  2. Raven fan is not comfortable with their ranking (all their trouble with the police, etc.) and so are defensive and posting everywhere else.

  3. And Ravens fans continue to love this list. I just want to thank PFT for recognizing the Baltimore Ravens as one of the league’s elite teams and use this oppurtunity to say that our team is just better than yours.

  4. This team really isn’t very good. They will make the playoffs, but only because of their easy schedule and division.

  5. You forgot to mention 3rd round draft pick Donte Moncrief at wide receiver for the Colts.. He could be the Colts best pickup this off season..

  6. Wow. This was very well written and thought out. Spot on! Considering our strength of schedule as well as probably having one of v’d most lethal offenses in the league a 13 win season and at least a conference championship appearance seems very realistic. #COLTSTRONG

  7. Turtlehut- ya got that wrong there bud. Ravens fans don’t need to be defensive because we know how good we are going to be this year. Remember this post when we’re better than your team again this year. Its going to be a sweet, sweet year in Baltimore to hear the haters all season long.

  8. Seriously Ravens fans? Are you getting excited about being ranked high in PFT pre season rankings? You know this could very well be the highlight of your season right?

  9. The Chargers lost to Houston, Miami, Oakland,Washington and Tennessee. I guess using that head to head logic, all those teams are better than the Chargers.

  10. I hate this team for blatantly tanking a season just to get Luck. That being said, no one can argue it hasn’t paid off.
    ———————

    Because it benefited Polian, Caldwell, vets that aren’t there anymore & other ppl in the organization to tank….face it: Peyton covered up mistakes & flaws for years.

  11. Ok. About right, will win the AFC South. Not much competition with Tennessee, J’ville and Houston.

  12. The Colts played that season with Curtis freakin Painter as their QB. A guy who had done nothing in the league before then, and has done nothing since. Even with other, more viable QB options available.

    That, folks, is tanking.

  13. Sucking for Luck was brilliant. Panthers fans were livid when he went back to Stanford for another year, but the Newton pick makes up for it.
    Colts offense is going to be stellar. And their division is like giving them extra practice. They could easily grab a top-2 seed, get a bye and home field, and make a deep run this year. Unfortunately, like some other top-10 AFC teams, the defense is suspect.

  14. You can knock the Colts for their easy division, but they proved they can play with anyone by beating the 49ers in SF, the Seahawks and the Broncos last year. With the additions through the draft and FA, and players returning from injury and the improvement the o line, the Colts have a great chance to be a top 5 offense. Their defense just needs to play stronger for them to compete with Denver and NE.

  15. bassplucker:
    The Colts did not play the entire season with Painter. They started with Kerry Collins, he got injured, then they played Painter, then they played Orlovsky. The team was just terrible and unequipped to play without Manning, which is why they had to gut the roster afterwards.

  16. Still crying “conspiracy” about 2011? Everything is a conspiracy, isn’t it? Either you think everybody else plays dirty because that’s the way YOU are, or you are just being paranoid. Everybody is NOT out to get you.

  17. One thing I will prop the Colts for is that amazing comeback win against the Chiefs last year. That was brilliant.

  18. tedmurph says:
    Jul 19, 2014 10:31 AM
    The Chargers lost to Houston, Miami, Oakland,Washington and Tennessee. I guess using that head to head logic, all those teams are better than the Chargers.

    —————————-

    You guys didn’t even manage to score a single touchdown against us. We kept you to single digits.

    Some super team you guys are, that my mediocre Chargerscontinue to beat you year after year, including (especially) the Peyton days.

  19. Who’s ‘us’? Are you on the Chargers? Sorry, but I’m a Pats fan. The team that ruined the Chargers dreams year after year. When they thought they were Super Bowl contenders. Lights out baby.

  20. Colts are better than number 8 in the NFL I’d say more likely at number 5 or 6. The only reason they didn’t do better last year is bc they were the most injured team in football and Luck didn’t have his top 2 targets and lost starting RB and then the number 2 RB all in the first 3 weeks of the season. While it def helped with developing players who’ll be much better for it this year it killed them last year and made it impossible to run at least half of their offense. If everyone stays healthy especially Dwayne Allen then Colts are definitely Super Bowl contenders. Adding Art Jones and DQwell Jackson is huge and fixes their only weakness on defense and not have Bethea back there giving up huge plays all the time will make the biggest difference.

  21. tedmurph says:Jul 19, 2014 12:25 PM

    Who’s ‘us’? Are you on the Chargers? Sorry, but I’m a Pats fan. The team that ruined the Chargers dreams year after year. When they thought they were Super Bowl contenders. Lights out baby.

    How many of our practices did you videotape though? #cheatingisntcool

  22. bassplucker says:
    Jul 19, 2014 11:16 AM
    The Colts played that season with Curtis freakin Painter as their QB. A guy who had done nothing in the league before then, and has done nothing since. Even with other, more viable QB options available.

    That, folks, is tanking.

    8 6
    Report comment

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Curtis Freaking Painter only started 8 games that season for the Colts.

    Starting just 8 of their 16 games isn’t quite playing the season with Curtis Freakin Painter.

    It’s playing HALF the season with Curtis Freaking Painter

  23. Pats taped no practices anywhere, anytime. Anyone that said so has retracted those statements and apologized. It’s nice to see all you have to fall back on is the cry of the losers. Pats cheated. Don’t forget to blame the refs and Goodell too. Right up there with the Steeler and Rams fans.

    #you’llneverbechampslikeus

  24. This is a good reason to stay optimistic after the drubbing Denver hands you in the opener, Colts fans. You’ll still be mediocre no matter how awful you feel after Denver rubs your nose in it. So keep your heads up even after Denver leaves you feeling like maybe the Colts can’t even compete in the NFL. You’ll likely still make it to the first round playoff loss.

  25. Should be below Cincy with a non-factor running game and that OL, not to mention the oldest defense of the entire league (and with its best player suspended).

    It’s all about the Luck hype, funny that Wilson, Foles and RG3 are all overrated but yet all of them had better seasons than Luck (RW in both 2012 and 13, RG3 in 2012 and Foles last season).

    Meanwhile, the best prospect since John Elway alternates moments where he is Peyton Manning and moments where he is awful. beats SEA, SF and DEN and gets blown out by the Cardinals and the Rams (this one at home). But he is the “comeback kid” (only to throw 4 picks the week after).

    Thanks to the AFC South they’ll go 12-4 and fight for the #1 seed and fooling people that they are a top SB contender while they are just a borderline contender.

  26. So far I had this right with the exception of the Ravens getting a bit too much air play for a team with such a troubled off season.

  27. This is an over reaction to a decent team that’s in a very weak division. They will get their wins but this team is far from super bowl caliber.

  28. Lol so many salty ppl… You knows it’s the colts fault for the nfl outing them in the crappy division and conference.. The chose them both to be contenders. Yea we lost to Arizona… That’s a good team. And if u switch luck with Russell they’d win even more games. The professionals ranked them 8th they all know more then all of us. Anyways. Ravens won’t do crap…. Russel is a defense away from 2-14 and too bears fan that popped in to say they would beat Indy 55-0… I don’t wish I had cutler. Luck shows up in big games… Cutler throws picks and “gets hurt” very soon after the int’s lol

  29. The incredibly weak Rams, #20 in PFT’s list, with one or two lucky plays, beat Indy (in Indianapolis) by the squeaker score of 38-8. Presumably that margin was insufficient. If the Rams had won 75-0, they might have snuck up to#19 in the list, and that might have pushed Indy back to #9. But maybe not.

  30. Looks like the know it all haters are in full force..Funny how the Colts are not that good yet so many opposing fans make it a point to show up to put their 2 cents in ..When a team is irrelevant nobody wants to talk about them ..On the other hand when a team is good …….the yaps begin to flap ..

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