Each year an NFL squad saves their season from the brink of disaster. When new Indianapolis Colts coach Frank Reich started 1-5 last season, the mainstream media started to write the obituary of the Colts season. However as so often happens when a new coach is hired, everything clicked into place. The Colts went 9-1 over their last ten games to make the playoffs as a wildcard. It was a magical run built on great play in the trenches, some stunning performances from quarterback Andrew Luck and a breakout performance from a rookie labelled as a reach on draft night.
The Colts would bully their division rivals, the Texans in the wildcard game. Led by their strong offensive and defensive lines, the Colts controlled the ball and kept the Texans star players quiet. It was a performance that followed the blueprint of the Philadelphia Eagles side with whom Reich won a Super Bowl just a year earlier. The Colts were suddenly a contender.
In the divisional round, it was clear that there would be no fairytale for the Colts. Comprehensively outplayed by a Kansas City team that set the league on fire during the regular season. The Chiefs offensive firepower proved too much for the Colts, who will have learned a valuable lesson in this playoff loss.
2019 dawns with renewed hope in Indy. Reich is one of the top coaches in the league. The spine of the team has young and talented players that will continue to improve. Quarterback Andrew Luck is healthy and playing towards his massive potential. Expectations are high, the fans are beginning to dream. The Super Bowl window is opening.
Andrew Luck came back healthy after shoulder surgery in successive offseasons. After a slow start to the season, Luck exploded for 4,500 yards and an impressive 39-15 touchdown to interception ratio. In most seasons, those are MVP type numbers. A repeat this season, should see the Colts to a division title and Luck firmly in the MVP conversation.
Break Out Ball Hawk
The 15th pick of the 2017 NFL Draft Malik Hooker was praised as a ball hawking safety with excellent coverage skills coming out of Ohio State. His potential to make big plays on the back end of this defense was mouth watering for Colts fans. After two injury affected seasons, this is the season that Hooker breaks out. As one of the leaders in a young secondary that has shutdown potential, I think we will see Hooker return to his Ohio State form. Which could be a massive boost to this defense.
Big Games to Define Season?
Three big games will define the Colts season, if they can win two of them then the number one seed in the AFC could be in play. Lose them and they probably have to face multiple road games in the playoffs.
Week 1 – LA Chargers (A) – A monster game to kick off the season. The Chargers are one of the favourites in the AFC, a big win here will set down a marker to everyone in the conference that the Colts are a contender.
Week 5 – Kansas City Chiefs (A) – A chance to revenge last seasons playoff loss early in the year. Winning this game has the potential to kick start the Colts season. If they lose week one, this game becomes must win.
Week 15 – New Orleans Saints (A) – A late season contest, on the road, against a team that was so close to making a trip to the big dance last season. This has all the makings of a playoff practice run. The kind of game that can make or break a season. A win is a must.
A Ring on the Horizon?
A talented squad, with an infusion of youth. A quarterback ready to compete for the MVP. A schedule that gives them the chance for marquee wins against fellow playoff candidates. Can the Colts ride the wave of momentum that ended last season deep into the playoffs? That is the key question that will define their season. A season that could end with a Super Bowl ring.
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