NFL Indianapolis Colts

No Sophomore Slump for Indianapolis Colts Quarterback Andrew Luck

Andrew Luck

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Following the Indianapolis Colts‘ improbable come-from-behind victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Wild Card weekend, fans now have an opportunity to assess how quarterback Andrew Luck has improved during his second year in the NFL.

The Colts finished the 2013 regular season at 11-5, matching their record from the previous year. The noticeable difference this term, however, has been Luck’s ability to perform in high-profile games. In 2012, the Colts beat just three teams with winning records and were blown out by the Chicago Bears and New England Patriots.

This year, victories over the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos and the Chiefs indicate that this team is capable of competing within the upper echelons of the NFL .

The key area of concern last year was Luck’s inability to protect the football. He was intercepted just nine times during 2013, half the number of 2012, and lost two fumbles compared to five last year. Luck ran for 122 more yards this season and was sacked nine fewer times — an all-round improvement in ball security.

Two major changes for the Colts’ offense this year has been the introduction of a new “power running” system, and wholesale changes at the receiver position due to injuries. Despite attempting less throws under Pep Hamilton‘s run-first philosophy, Luck has thrown 23 regular season touchdowns, the same number as last year.

Regarding injuries, great quarterbacks can make an average supporting cast look phenomenal, and that is exactly what Luck has done this season.

Losing veteran wideout Reggie Wayne and rookie tight end sensation Dwayne Allen was tough on a Colts offense lacking identity when it became apparent Trent Richardson was not the man for “power” football. Rookie receiver Da’Rick Rogers has stepped in following Darrius Heyward-Bey‘s lack of production, while the second-year pairing of Coby Fleener and Griff Whalen have formed solid partnerships with their former college quarterback.

Regardless of what happens on the road in the next round of the playoffs, Luck has had another exceptional season, and with Wayne and Allen expecting to return next year, this team is sure to make a postseason return in 2014.

David Lewis is an Indianapolis Colts writer for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @David_C_Lewis91, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.