As Colts fan, one of the most painful losses to watch was the 34-7 shellacking we received by the hands of the Texans on opening day in Houston. I remember the way the Texans fans celebrated as if they'd just won the SB. They repeated that sort of enthusiasm after the Texans won the division for the 1st time in franchise history on their way to their 1st playoff birth http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/12/12/texans-receive-heroes-welcome-after-winning-division-crown/ . Now, if you browse through some of their blog pages as well as their local news papers, you'll see the city oozing with confidence that they will win the division again due to the "Manningless" Colts no longer a "factor" in the equation. These sentiments are pretty much echoed by the mainstream media as the Colts have been reduced to the level of an expansion team with regard the amount of off-season turnover that has taken place. Even though the hot topic of the moment is "Luck vs Manning" with everyone not named Luck or Manning making comparisons between the two, what will surprise many this year is how close the division title race will be this year. The Texans may have been the team to beat last year, but they will not have a cake walk by any means this year, or years to come for that matter. It won't be long before they know who Andrew Luck is and I mean that in the worst way for them. The kid is just that good.
I may be one of the few who thinks the Colts have a legitimate shot at winning the title in spite of all the change the team has endured this year. I believe Indianapolis will indeed contend because of all the change. Honestly, the defense was so bad last year it has no where to go but up. Our offense was equally as bad and has no choice but to do the same. Andrew Luck will have as much of an impact on the rise of the offense as coach Chuck Pagano's hybrid 3-4 defensive scheme will have on the defense. Even though the Colts don't boast the talent level of the Ravens secondary, our front seven features something that the Ravens haven't had either: A two headed monster in Freeney and Mathis. The only pure edge rusher they (Ravens) have had is Suggs. I also believe Colts fans will be pleasantly surprised by the skill and play of the new LBs on the team as well, particularly Moise Fukou, and Jerrell freemen of the CFL. The Colts might not have a secondary that strikes fear in the hearts of their opponents, but one thing the team does have is a front seven that will cover up a lot of those deficiencies. Coach Pagano teaches an old school philosophy that I truly believe in: "Battles are won in the trenches. Who ever controls the line of scrimmage, controls the game." This is a forgotten truth by many in today's pass happy NFL league. I'm glad we have a coach who not only understands the importance of it, but also remembers it. With all the beef up front the front office has added via draft and free agency, the Colts will win a lot of those "in the trench" battles this year.