It’s about that time where NFL training camps start up, so this seems like as good a time as any to see what to expect out of the Colts this year. Last year was a complete surprise. Yeah, there was some talent on the team, and having Reggie Wayne is an awfully good security blanket for a rookie quarterback trying to become a star. But most of that talent was either awfully young or awfully old. It sure didn’t feel like hardly any of that team was in its prime, and because of the terrible season in 2011,* the Colts were handed statistically the easiest schedule in football. And, yes, it seems that schedule has universally held to be exactly that.
*I’m sorry, Curtis Painter. I wanted it to work out on the NFL level, but the sad truth is you never were a big game player in college, and, well, that usually doesn’t bode well for the pros.
So, yes, while last season was an unqualified success, and a surprising one at that, I don’t really necessarily expect to duplicate that this year. Last year’s team was outscored by 30 points on the season, even while winning eleven games. That means a lot of close games, which I think we all can remember that no problem. Lots of late comebacks. The games against the Lions and Packers in particular stand out. The Colts had no business winning either of those games, and yet, somehow found a way. That’s great, but certainly nothing you can count on.
My gut told me expect nine wins out of this team. That just feels right. Which, you know, if you take away those two previously mentioned games, and you would get a 9-7 season last year.* Then I actually looked at the schedule for the first time. And, well, you can never really tell before the season starts, but it looks like the NFL might have gone a bit easy on the Colts again this year. It’s tougher than last year, to be sure, but nothing too bad. The teams with winning records on the Colts schedule are the Texans, 49ers, Seahawks, Broncos, Bengals. The Texans are good, but I don’t think anybody is too scared of them or thinks we can’t win the game in Indy. The Bengals also don’t strike me as a juggernaut, though that game is on the road.
*Of course, by that logic, you should probably put a win back on the board for finding a way to lose that game against the Jaguars at home.
Going through week by week, I came up with ten wins, but I think I my official prediction will still be nine wins. I gave the Colts both wins over the Titans on first glance, and I don’t think you can count on that. I also gave them a win over the Chargers in California, which might be rough. I think the Colts can probably do one of those things, but not both. That puts the Colts at a 9-7 season, which as I said before, just feels about right for this team at this point. The problem is it took ten wins to get into the playoffs last year, I don’t really see that changing too much. I don’t think the Ravens will be as good this year, so that’s one ten win team off the board, but I have a feeling the Steelers won’t be 8-8 this year. The hope is they’ll be worse because Father Time has officially caught up with them. If not, they’ll probably take that other playoff spot.
But, you know, football is in some ways a bit harder to predict than other sports. It’s a very short season, so every game has a huge effect. Injuries also drastically change teams, and it has been noted quite a bit as of late, football is a pretty violent game. People are going to get hurt. But, I do have one other mini-prediction before I sign off for the day. Pay attention to the NFC West. That division is going to be the most interesting (and maybe toughest) division in football. The 49ers are poised to be awfully good again this year, as are the Seahawks. The Rams were a tie away from pulling a .500 season, and I expect them to keep improving with another full season of Jeff Fisher at the helm. The Cardinals, especially, are a team to keep an eye on. When they had a good quarterback in Kurt Warner down there, they made the Super Bowl. True, Anquan Boldin is no longer in the desert, but Larry Fitzgerald still is. But with Alex Smith . . . oh, right, that was just the ideal spot for him in my head, not what actually happened. With Carson Palmer, they’ll be better, but probably still in the basement.
In happier news, I see that former Boilermaker quaterback Caleb TerBush is currently on the roster. Good for him. I liked TerBush just fine, though he did lose a year to academic stuff, and he clearly lost his spot once Robert Marve landed on campus. Funnily enough, Marve doesn’t appear to have latched on anywhere in the NFL. He had a tryout for Tampa Bay, but it doesn’t appear that went anywhere. My guess is his knee and his attitude was more the problem than his arm. He has an NFL arm, no doubt, but he was never well-liked around here, got himself kicked off the Miami Hurricanes* team, and spent forever in college thanks to a knee made out of glass. I do with TerBush the best, but I don’t think he was even as good as Curtis Painter, and, well, we saw how that worked out.
*You know, the “convicts” part of the Catholics vs. Convicts games?