EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 14th of 32 preseason previews in 32 days leading up to the NFL season opener Thursday, Sept 5.
Win total last 5 years: 49
LVH over/under wins (8½)
The naysayers are having a field day with the Indianapolis Colts, a feel good story from 2012 that threatens to take a step back.
Rookie Andrew Luck never played like one, throwing for nearly 4,400 yards in leading the Colts to 11 wins and a wild card playoff berth. A far cry from the season before when Peyton Manning was injured and Indy went 2-14.
That horrible season allowed the Colts to pick first in the 2012 draft and they took Luck. Now this season the projected total wins is 8½, a sign of respect but also one forecasting that the Colts take a step back.
Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, who did such a marvelous job as interim head coach while Chuck Pagano was getting treated for leukemia, impressed so many people that he is now the head coach at Arizona.
Pagano is back, which is sure to provide an emotional lift, but the Colts are faced with a reality check. They are not sneaking up on anyone this season.
Most experts believe the schedule is much tougher this season, but that really may not be the case. Sure there’s Houston twice and facing NFC West powers San Francisco and Seattle, but 10 of the 16 games are against teams coming off losing records.
Wide receiver Reggie Wayne made his sixth Pro Bowl and management went to the wallet to sign Lions offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus and safety LaRon Landry (Jets)and 49ers defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois.
There were losses. Perennial All Pro defensive end Dwight Freeney signed with San Diego and wide receiver Donnie Avery signed with Kansas City.
From the draft comes Florida State linebacker Bjoern Werner and a sleeper seventh round pick Kerwynn Williams, a mighty mite from Utah State. Athlon Sports rated the Colts draft a C, but we think a bit better.
The Colts may indeed slip to a .500 team or worse, but you can say that about 25 other teams in the NFL as well.
Thursday: Jacksonville Jaguars
Mark Mayer has over 35 years covering sports events and is the sports editor at GT. Reach him at [email protected].