Indianapolis Colts (10-6 SU, 8-7-1 ATS, 1st Place in AFC South)
The Colts are definitely going to have their work cut out for them if they want to win a third straight division title and to make the playoffs for a 10th straight season. There is a lot of stern competition in this division this season, and the rest of the AFC has seemed to take a heck of a lot of steps in the right direction revolving around stopping the Colts and the New England Patriots.
QB Peyton Manning is continuing to add to his Hall of Fame legacy. He already has thrown for 54,000+ yards (and could get to 60,000 with a record breaking season) and 399 TD passes, and he has had five straight seasons with at least 4,000 yards passing. Manning has never missed a game in his 13 seasons either. The question after signing a 5-year $90M contract: When will he start to fall off of the wagon?
Beyond Manning, this team just isn’t all that good. Indy only averaged 92.7 rushing yards per game thanks to the fact that RB Joseph Addai couldn’t stay healthy and no one else stepped up to the plate to carry the load.
The bigger question though, is what is going on with the defense. This has always been a much-maligned unit, but last season, the Colts allowed 341.6 yards and 24.2 points per game, ranking No. 20 and No. 23 respectively. Needless to say, these are awfully mediocre numbers. Without any legit signings to bolster the team in the offseason and no draft choices that really make you go, “Wow!” we have to wonder whether things are going to improve from this standpoint.
The season really starts off on a very difficult note. Five of the first eight games are on the road, including games against the up and coming Houston Texans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the perennial NFC powers, the New Orleans Saints. In the mix are home dates with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs.
Playing the NFC South out of conference won’t be easy, nor will dealing with an excess road trip at the New England Patriots that no one else in the division has to.
We’re not saying that this is the year that Indianapolis misses the playoffs, but if anything ultimately happens to No. 18, there is no doubt that the Colts are in a herd of trouble. Don’t be shocked if Manning looks like a mortal quarterback and Indianapolis looks like a mortal club.
Indianapolis Colts 2011 Predictions: 9-7, 2nd Place AFC South
Andrew Ryan has been in the sportswriting biz since the late-90s, and he has worked side by side with some of the best and brightest in sports gambling. Always searching for the best trends in sports, Andrew uses his brilliant math mind to his advantage to beat the books.