NFL Indianapolis Colts

5 Reasons Why the Indianapolis Colts are Pretenders

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5 Reasons Why the Indianapolis Colts are Pretenders

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts were expected to struggle last season with a rookie QB and rebuilding a team that finished with the worst record in the NFL. However, the play of Andrew Luck and the resurgence of Reggie Wayne led the Colts to the playoffs. Indianapolis got contributions from Rookies at every offensive position in 2012. Colby Fleener and Dwayne Allen were the two Tight Ends for the Colts, T.Y. Hilton was their most explosive playmaker at the receiver position and Vick Ballard was their leading rusher.

Fast forward to 2013, with expectations high, the Colts barely escape Oakland in Week 1 and lose to Miami in Week 2. With injuries to Ballard and a lack of a running game, the Colts traded their first-round pick in 2014 to the Cleveland Browns to acquire Running Back Trent Richardson. The thought was he would be the missing piece to helping the Colts get to the next level.

Richardson has struggled in a Colts uniform, failing to rush for more than 60 yards in a game and has not averaged over 4.0 yards per carry in any game either. He has scored 2 Touchdowns in nine games and early Sunday morning was replaced by Donald Brown on the depth chart.

What makes this struggle even worse for the Colts is that they were relying on Richardson after the injury to Reggie Wayne. Until his injury in Week 7 against the Denver Broncos, the Colts had not played a game without Wayne since his rookie campaign in 2001. Since then they have gone 2-2 with their two wins coming by a Field Goal against Houston and Tennessee, two teams below the .500 mark. Their two losses have come by a combined score of 78-19 to St. Louis and Arizona.

The Colts only have one legitimate receiver in Hilton and are struggling to run the ball. With the defense allowing an average of 32.2 points per game over the last five, the Colts playoff chances have gone from a sure thing to questionable recently. These are the five reasons why they are pretenders.

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5. Lack of Veteran Leadership on Offense

Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

It is difficult to win in the postseason with a young roster. The Indianapolis Colts don't have a single veteran on their offense that has won a Super Bowl. Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton, Colby Fleener and Trent Richardson are all in their second season and are the best offensive weapons the Colts have.

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4. Road Game Against New England or Denver

Road Game
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

If the Indianapolis Colts win the Wild Card round, they will have to go on the road against either Denver or New England. They aren't used to playing in cold weather and these two teams are two of the best at home in the NFL.

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3. Terrible Run Defense

Run Defense
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts are 26th in the NFL in rushing defense. With the inability to run the ball, not being able to stop the run forces them to lose the time of possession battle in most games. In January, playing in the cold weather, stopping the run and forcing the other team to pass is essential to win.

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2. Can't Run The Ball

Running Game
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Trent Richardson has not been able to revive the Indianapolis Colts running game after injuries to Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard. They are turning to Donald Brown in Week 13, who has been used more often each week. If they can't get their running game going in the playoffs, they will be forced to throw the ball 40 times in the cold weather.

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1. Injuries

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The injury to Reggie Wayne is the biggest injury in the NFL right now. He is their best player and their veteran leader on offense. Without him, T.Y. Hilton has had to move from the slot position to being the No. 1 receiver. A preseason injury to Dwayne Allen has forced the Colts to go away from the two Tight End set that Andrew Luck ran in Stanford. Injuries to Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard forced the Colts to acquire Trent Richardson, which has not worked out thus far. Losing Guard Donald Thomas has also hurt the running game and forced a shift on the Offensive Line.