Despite entering his second season as Indianapolis Colts heads coach, Chuck Pagano and Andrew Luck must follow up a tough act. Bruce Arians won 2012 NFL Coach of the Year for his work while Pagano was out receiving leukemia treatment, and has since upgraded from Colts offensive coordinator and QB guru to Arizona Cardinals head coach.
Ten of Indy’s 11 wins last season came by one score and this rate of success in close games will be hard to repeat, therefore making it even more difficult for Pagano’s squad to top that in 2013. Indy also moves from a the division’s last-place schedule to the second-place slate, which could translate to significantly more challenging competition. There’s a very real possibility that this team could perform better in 2013 but suffer a 2-4 win dropoff.
The Colts’ attempt to defy regression begins in the best way possible: a home matchup with the Oakland Raiders.
Colts Week 1 Spread and Schedule:Colts 7-point favorites hosting Raiders at 1 p.m. ET
Colts Preview and Preseason Effect:
The Colts begin preseason play Sunday afternoon against the Buffalo Bills and this will finally give us a glimpse at how much the offense will change under new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, who worked with quarterback Luck while the two were at Stanford.
USA Today reported that, when Hamilton was asked if Indy was all right with 2012’s most-hit quarterback taking shots in this preseason game, Hamilton made it clear Luck’s safety is a priority: “Absolutely not. … It’s funny. When Andrew was in college, when I would approach him and ask him a couple of days prior to the game, ‘Hey, give me an idea of what plays you’d like to start with,’ he would always say, ‘Hey, I want to get hit to knock the butterflies out.'”
This will remain the most intriguing angle in Week 1 of the regular season against Oakland: How quick this offense requires Luck to release the ball in real action, and whether this translates to increased offensive production. An offensive line haul that includes free agent RT Gosder Cherilus should help.
Oakland does not possess any of the league’s more terrifying pass rushers, to put it lightly, so if Indy can’t do it against them it will spell bad things for the 2013 season.