Following three seasons of diminishing returns, the Indianapolis Colts parted ways with Chuck Pagano and named Josh McDaniels ... uh, wait, I mean Frank Reich as their new coach. Reich wasn’t shy about being the team’s second choice after McDaniels reneged on his agreement to take over the team. Maybe McDaniels read the writing on the wall. The Colts went 4-12 last season, their worst since 2011 when a 2-win campaign landed them the top pick that was used on Andrew Luck. Reich is a better coach now that Luck has recovered from his injury that forced him to miss the entire 2017 season. But is the rest of team better?
Indianapolis Colts Opening Futures Odds at BookMaker.eu
Indianapolis Colts Over 7 Wins -148
Indianapolis Colts Under 7 Wins +123
2018 Indianapolis Colts Offense Preview
The fate of the entire Colts organization rests on the surgically-repaired right shoulder of Luck, who participated in preseason games after missing all of last season. And the Colts are a much better team with him behind center. But has management done enough to make sure a repeat doesn’t take place? While Luck has put up staggering numbers during his career, he’s also taken a helluva beating, which contributed to the injury concerns. Luck has been sacked 156 times since joining the club, including 41 times in 2016.
Jacoby Brissett felt the brunt of the offensive line woes last season getting sacked 52 times while the Colts allowed a league-high 56. Steps were taken to remedy the situation with Quenton Nelson selected in the first round and Braden Smith in the second. Both are expected to be anchors on the rebuilt front. Concerns remain over the skill players. Outside of T.Y. Hilton, the Colts lack play makers at receiver and the backfield is inexperienced now that Frank Gore has returned home. The Colts ranked 31st in yards per game and 30th in scoring last season, so there is plenty of room for improvement.
2018 Indianapolis Colts Defense Preview
It’s hard to say the Colts did enough to upgrade a unit that ranked 30th in points and yards allowed last season. Reich hired Matt Eberflus as his new coordinator and the team will move to a 4-3 alignment, but there remains a talent gap. Darius Leonard, the Colts first pick in the second-round, is expected to make an immediate impact as a youth movement overtakes the unit. The strength of the group is at linebacker with Najee Goode and Anthony Walker joining Leonard.
Not much was done to improve a pass rush that collected just 25 sacks last season. Only Jabaal Sheard, who had 5.5 sacks, had more than three last season. And the team parted ways with Johnathan Hankins, Jonathan Bostic and Barkevious Mingo, who combined for five of the teams sack total. The lack of a pass rush puts plenty of pressure on a secondary that Reich calls a “work in progress.” The group should be better with the return of Malik Hooker, who was having a solid rookie campaign before a knee injury ended it. The 2017 first-rounder had three picks in seven games and is the only play maker in the back end.
2018 Indianapolis Colts Schedule Analysis
The schedule breaks down into two significant halves, and if the Colts can successfully navigate the first part they could be in a position to at least break even. Five of their first eight games before the bye are on the road, including a stretch where they play four of five away from home starting in Week 2. And outside of games at New England and Philadelphia, the two Super Bowl combatants, there isn’t on that screams loss.
There is a three-game homestand immediately following the bye with games against division foes Jacksonville and Tennessee opening the second half. Five division matchups take place in the post-bye part of the schedule and the Colts play five of seven at home before ending the year at Tennessee.
The Final Verdict
Even with a healthy Luck it’s hard to envision this edition of the Colts having enough to break even. There aren’t enough skill players on offense and the Colts won’t be able to light up the scoreboard, which is something they will need to do with a defense that is likely to finish in the bottom half of the league stat categories.
There are reasons to be optimistic, however. The Colts have done well in the draft over the past few seasons and Luck is healthy. The offensive line should be improved with the addition of Nelson and Smith and that’s good for the health of Luck, and the schedule doesn’t appear to be overly difficult. But there are just too many holes on the team as the rebuild continues. It looks like seven wins is the ceiling, and that’s if everything goes right.
NFL Betting Odds: Indianapolis Colts Under 7 Wins
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