The Indianapolis Colts are starting the 2014 season on all the right notes. Everyone showed up to offseason training with a lot of energy and a fantastic attitude. They’re rich in potential and rightly have high expectations, including at least 10 wins and a legitimate playoff run.
However, I can’t imagine a universe in which they win their first game against the Denver Broncos on Sept 7.
Their win against the Broncos last season was a signature game, and of course, the Colts should be better now. Andrew Luck has another year of experience, and his receiving corps is stronger. The running game will have a little more structure and confidence, and despite the absence of Antoine Bethea, the defense has the potential to be something special.
In the first week of the season, everyone should be healthy and ready to go, and I fully believe that under those circumstances, the Colts should be able to hang with anyone in the league.
But the Broncos are coming off a historically embarrassing Super Bowl, and I can feel the steam coming out of their flaring nostrils from a timezone away. According to the Bronco’s website, they’ve been using “35” (their margin of defeat) as their rally cry. I imagine them chanting the number in a huddle Drew Brees-style, just getting angrier and angrier.
Congratulations Colts, you get them first. The Broncos will be playing at home in their thin Mile High air, and Peyton Manning won’t let his former team beat him twice in a row, not with so much history and legacy at stake. I no longer believe that Manning automatically trumps Luck in terms of “best player on the field wins,” but it would be interesting to see which of them has the more reliable “angry” gear. If something happens to peeve Luck off and he achieves angry gear, then all bets are off.
I fully expect the Colts to start the season with a loss, and that’s okay. After watching the Indiana Pacers start the season with a massive win streak and then collapse down the stretch, I might even say losing the first game would be beneficial. Even with that loss, 10 wins is very possible, and a little adversity right up front could further galvanize this team.
Or, maybe this is all just my Manning-era fan guilt talking.