The Indianapolis Colts Will Compete For A Division Title In 2012

By Daniel Canova

For those of you who are writing off the “Peyton Manningless” Colts for the 2012 season, think again.

New Head Coach, Chuck Pagano and the Indianapolis Colts seem as if they are on a mission heading into next year.  They claim they are not in rebuilding mode and I do not expect them to fold easily.

Think about it.

The AFC South division isn’t as strong as it seems.  The Houston Texans are the only team that I feel can compete for a Superbowl Title.  The Jacksonville Jaguars are young, and inexperienced, and the Tennessee Titans are having a huge Quarterback controversy.  They need to decide whether to go young with Jake Locker or stay with the experienced, Matt Hasselbeck.

If Andrew Luck lives up to the hype coming out of college, I don’t see why they can’t compete for the division.  Reggie Wayne is back, Austin Collie is expected to be healthy.  If they build a foundation for Luck on the o-line, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians has a lot of pieces to work with to have a productive year.

Defensively, Chuck Pagano will run the show.  Previously, he was the defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens and you see the job he did there.  Yes, they already had the pieces in place with Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis, and Ed Reed, but the coordinator still needs to call the correct plays during the game.

During Peyton Manning’s era in Indianapolis, they had one of the worst defenses in the NFL every season.  They built their offense to gain leads quickly in games, and their defenses were built to have speedy pass rushers (Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis), to get to the opposing Quarterback, since they would be throwing most of the time.

The new look Colts are expected to be different.  Once Andrew Luck settles into the system, I believe he will have more control of the offense, but his rookie campaign might be a bit difficult for him.  I expect the Colts to become a more balanced offense next year.  Running the football a lot more, using it for play action, and of course they may rely on Andrew Luck late in games.  I’m excited to see what he can do at the professional level after having a successful college career.

Andrew Luck reminds me of Peyton Manning.  His work ethic, his desires, calling his own plays, and his ability to talk to the media without getting frustrated.  He went to Stanford University for a reason.

My prediction for the Colts looking ahead to 2012 is a 7-9, 8-8, or 9-7 record.  I feel as if one of those three records seems very accurate to what the Colts may be looking at come December.  If the Texans are surrounded by injuries in 2012, like they were in 2011, I can see the record even being 10-6.

Maybe that’s pushing it.


follow Dan on Twitter @DanCanova

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