Football Outsiders have released their preseason DVOA projections and playoff odds. As always with a fully objective system, some things will look to be out of whack, some of them will turn out right, some will turn out to be as wrong as we feel they are now. Some of the projections that look dead on will make everyone wrong, but overall the unbiased, objective projections are as good as it gets. I'll list the rankings then comment once they are all done.
The Colts are projected as the number 2 offense, 18th defense and 32nd special teams. The hardest projected schedule in the league (the average projected DVOA of the Colts opponents would be the 11th best in the league) puts the Colts at 9.4 mean projected wins.
Their playoff odds give the Colts a 2 in 3 chance of making the playoffs (66.0%) with a 42.2% chance of winning the division.
Their AFC South Champs odds break down as
- Colts 42.2%
- Jags 36.6%
- Texans 14.0%
- Titans 7%
They give the Colts a 21.8% chance of making the AFC Championship game (3rd to the Pats and Chargers) with a 9.1% chance of winning it (again 3rd best in AFC). Finally the put the odds of the Colts SB title at 4.6%.
They also give the Colts a 1 in 1000 chance at having the number 1 pick in the 2009 draft.
Ok, my thoughts.
The D projection seems wrong. They were the 3rd best D in the league by last years rankings I don't know why they are projecting a decline. Two of their favorite indicators, 3rd down performance vs 1st/2nd down and trend at the end of the season, would predict a improvement and holding steady, respectively. I don't know why the projection is so low on the Colts D. I've asked and an answer may be coming soon.
I can tell you how the Colts would rank if the D repeated it's performance last year (not a stretch in any of our minds).
Leaving the offensive projection alone and using last years defensive DVOA instead of their projection puts the Colts as 2nd best team in the league with a 34.9% total DVOA. That would still leave the Colts 5.1% behind the Patriots. For them to overtake them without outperforming their great offensive projection or an defensive improvement they would need the impossible, slightly above average special teams play.
So if the D is as good as we expect the Colts will challenge the Patriots to be the top team in the league and an improvement in any of the 3 phases will put them over the top.