Game By Game Prediction of the Colts 2013 Season

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

With just a week left until the regular season opener, Stampede Blue's Josh Wilson takes a game by game look at the Colts' schedule in 2013. Will the Colts have a better record in 2013 than they did in 2012? Will they make the playoffs? Will they win the AFC South? Find out all that and more here.

Let's face it - 11-5 in 2012 was a fluke. I mean, seriously - a fluke. The 2012 Colts were the worst 11 win team in NFL history, and actually the only 11 win team in history to be outscored on the season. The talent they had wasn't 11-win caliber but rather 6-7 win caliber.

That's not to take anything away from last season; in fact it adds to it. This was a team that greatly overachieved and was embraced by the fan base in a unique way. They rallied around Chuck Pagano and a rookie quarterback, won 11 games, and made the playoffs. There's a reason why a lot of us have used the word "magical" to describe the season.

As fun as 2012 was, however, the Colts weren't going to be able to win 11 games again with that squad. No way.

The good news is that this isn't the same squad. It's greatly improved. The Colts made a bunch of moves in the offseason to make this team better, and they absolutely did. Here's the thing, though - their record might not be better. They could very well be a 9-10 win team this year. Does that mean that they're worse than last year? Absolutely not, it just means that this year they are a legitimate 9-10 win team instead of a fluke 11 win team.

If you want a range of where I think the team could land, I say that the Colts will absolutely be somewhere between 8 and 11 wins. There's the range, and I'm going right in the middle at 10 wins to finish 10-6.

I'll go through the whole schedule and give brief previews of each team, as well as my prediction for each game.

I know plenty will disagree with me. Sorry, I'm doing the best I can - I'm not a predictificationist, after all. So what do you all think the Colts' record will be in 2013? Here's how I think it will turn out. Be sure to bookmark this page so you can check back during the season and mock my predictions. It's ok. I can handle it [Josh runs and hides in a corner in Brad's mother's basement crying].

WEEK 1: OAKLAND RAIDERS

The Colts get to start the 2013 season at home against a team that, quite frankly, is probably the worst in the league. The Raiders have a mess at quarterback, as Matt Flynn is the most experienced guy on the roster - with 2 career starts. And he might not even start, as Terrelle Pryor has been getting attention too. The one thing going for the Raiders, however, is that the injury-prone Darren McFadden should be healthy in week one. He's their best player and he will give the Colts' new and (hopefully) improved run defense a test right off the bat. Bottom line, however, is that the Raiders are bad and the Colts are good. It's that simple. WIN (1-0)

WEEK 2: MIAMI DOLPHINS

At first glance, this looks like another easy opponent for the Colts to start off the season, but the Dolphins aren't just an easy win. They're aiming for the playoffs in 2013, and winning this game against the Colts will be key for the Dolphins. This is a battle of second year quarterbacks, with Ryan Tannehill going against Andrew Luck for the second time in as many years. Luck won last year in a record-setting performance, and I expect the same result this year. I think that Tannehill is in line for a real good season in 2013, but the true gem of last year's rookie class shows why he's the best of the sophomore quarterbacks and once again carries the Colts to a victory over the up and coming Dolphins, who are a year away. WIN (2-0)

WEEK 3: @ SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

This is a huge test for the Colts. They play out on the west coast for the first time and it just happens to be against the defending NFC Champions. Colin Kaepernick burst onto the scene last season and, while I in no way expect him to put up those types of numbers this season, he still is a guy that can beat you - especially when his surrounding cast is as good as the 49ers is. Their defense is still very good and they have a fiery coach in Jim Harbaugh who will really want to beat his former team in his first game coaching against them. The 49ers are a better team than the Colts and the fact that Indy has to travel out west to play them could make for a rough day for Colts fans. LOSS (2-1)

WEEK 4: @ JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

The first AFC South matchup of the year for the Colts comes against the lowly Jaguars. They are moving in the right direction (very, very slowly) but they won't make much noise this season. The real question is how Blaine Gabbert will do in a crucial year for both him and the Jaguars. I'm not a big fan of him, and I think that he may struggle, which in turn would escalate the Jaguars' troubles even more. Not even the injury prone Colt-killer Maurice Jones-Drew will be able to overcome the huge talent gap between these two teams and the Colts run away with it down the stretch. WIN (3-1)

WEEK 5: SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

In the second game of the year for the Colts that features second year quarterbacks, Andrew Luck faces Russell Wilson for the first time. Wilson burst onto the scene last year with an absolutely tremendous season, leading the Seahawks to the playoffs. Seattle got even better this year and they are a very hot pick to make the Super Bowl (they're my pick to win the NFC this year as well). The fact that this game is in Indianapolis is huge for the Colts, and I think that Luck vs. Wilson 1.0 lives up to expectations. In the end, though, I think that the talent around Wilson lifts the Seahawks to a win over Luck's talented but overmatched Colts. LOSS (3-2)

WEEK 6: @ SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

Looking at the Colts' schedule, I was looking for potential "trap" games. This one fits the definition. The Chargers will in no way be a better team than the Colts in 2013, but this game is sandwiched in between two great matchups with two Super Bowl caliber teams and two very exciting quarterback battles. The Colts travel west for a Monday Night matchup against a Chargers team that has talent but underachieves (especially at the quarterback position). An added dimension to this game is that longtime Colt Dwight Freeney is now with the Chargers and will be looking to get to his former teammate, Andrew Luck (and I bet he does that, too). For a relatively young team, traveling west to take on a decent team like the Chargers in between two very high profile and important matchups looks like a classic trap game. I think the Chargers pull the upset as the Cols get caught looking ahead to the next week's game. LOSS (3-3)

WEEK 7: DENVER BRONCOS

Yeah, this game is pretty freaking huge. Like, massively, massively huge. The greatest player in Indianapolis sports history returns to the city that he put on the national map and the city that loves him in a way not many cities have loved an athlete before. Peyton Manning will always be a Colt and will always have a special place in Colts fans' hearts, but Jim Irsay made the absolute right, albeit incredibly difficult, decision to part ways with the legendary number 18 in order to get Andrew Luck. It was absolutely the right decision, but Indianapolis now has divided loyalties. Many (former) Colts fans now root for Peyton. And I do too - except when he's playing the Colts. And that happens this year. This game has massive implications for Andrew Luck and the Colts, which I'll detail in later articles as the game approaches, but basically, it comes down to this: this is the biggest regular season game in Indianapolis sports history and right up there with the 2007 AFC Championship game at the top of the list overall. I think the game lives up to the hype and goes down as an instant classic, but I just don't see any way Peyton Manning loses in his return to Indianapolis. Colts fans get to see some of Manning's magic one last time, as he leads his Broncos to a close victory in the "House that Peyton Built." LOSS (3-4)

WEEK 8: - BYE WEEK -

The Colts enter their bye week with a 3-4 record, but it's no reason for Colts fans to panic. The first seven weeks features the two teams I predict to make the Super Bowl in 2013 (Denver and Seattle) and a team that made it last year (San Francisco). The hard part of the schedule is over, and the Colts set themselves up nicely for a second half AFC South title run with 3 wins in the first 7 weeks in what is easily the toughest part of their schedule. While a 3-4 record entering the bye doesn't look great on paper, I have a feeling that Colts fans will be much more comfortable with where the team stands when it actually comes. Although, it's pretty much the worst case scenario for Luck and the Colts to have two weeks for the media and fans to digest the loss to the Broncos. It makes it even more of a must-win game, if that's even possible. RECORD ENTERING BYE WEEK: 3-4

WEEK 9: @ HOUSTON TEXANS

The Colts start out after the bye with a trip to last year's AFC South champion, the Houston Texans. This game, hidden right in the middle of the season, could actually end up being the deciding game as to whether the Texans or the Colts win the AFC South in 2013. The Texans have never won in Indianapolis, so they need to win the game in Houston even more. The Texans are also coming off of a bye week, so that somewhat negates the advantage for either team there. After the Denver game, this might be the most important game for the Colts this year, and I don't think Luck lets the Colts lose both of them. He wills the Colts to a victory and puts the Colts as the clear frontrunner in the AFC South race. WIN (4-4)

WEEK 10: ST. LOUIS RAMS

The Rams are an up and coming team that looks to show improvement in 2013 in Jeff Fisher's second year as head coach. The Rams have a good defense and an offense that hopes to take strides forward with Sam Bradford under center. They will be a competitive team in 2013, but that doesn't always equate to wins, and it won't against the Colts. The Rams play Indy tough but lose in a game that never really was in doubt for most Colts fans. WIN (5-4)

WEEK 11: @ TENNESSEE TITANS

The Colts play the Titans for the first time in week 11, so by this time the team should have a good idea as to how Jake Locker will do in 2013. I expect him to do just enough to avoid getting replaced at the end of the season (which, by the way, is the worst thing that could happen for the Titans - you'd much rather know definitively whether he'll be good or bad). The Titans won't be horrible in 2013, but they won't be that good either and, while they're moving in the right direction a lot faster than the Jaguars, they aren't there yet. They always seem to play the Colts tough, and this time is no different, but the Colts pull it out and improve to 3-0 in the AFC South. WIN (6-4)

WEEK 12: @ ARIZONA CARDINALS

Another game that I labeled as a "trap" game for this season was the week 12 game against the Arizona Cardinals. Right in the midst of a 3 game winning streak, the Colts will be feeling good about their chances and could overlook an Arizona team that, let's face it, isn't going to be very good. The real storylines from this game come from the Colts facing former cornerback Jerraud Powers (that is, unless he's injured) and former offensive coordinator / interim head coach Bruce Arians, who is now the head coach of the Cardinals. I think that Arians can get the Cardinals on track, but the team he inherited was a mess. Carson Palmer should have a decent season (throwing it up to Larry Fitzgerald), but the team overall won't be good. - still, the Cardinals should be competitive at the very least and are a team that could potentially overachieve past their expectations or talent a bit. The Colts also travel west to Arizona, which is a bit of a concern. This game could easily be a trap game for the Colts, and I don't think they play their best but I still think they get a win against a beloved man amongst the Colts and their fans, Bruce Arians. WIN (7-4)

WEEK 13: TENNESSEE TITANS

For the second time in three weeks, the Colts face the Titans, but this time it looks different. The teams in the division always play the Colts tough, and that won't be any different this year. Entering the game with a 3-0 record in the AFC South, the Colts will be looking to close out an impressive run to end the season, but the Titans put a halt on their momentum, beating the Colts in Indianapolis in an all around bad showing for the Colts. LOSS (7-5)

WEEK 14: @ CINCINATTI BENGALS

The Cincinnati Bengals are finally ready to supplant the Steelers and Ravens as the AFC North Champion in 2013, which I think they will do. Talent-wise, the Bengals are loaded, and this should be the year they are poised to make a run. This game will be key for them down the stretch, and I think that the Bengals give the Colts their second loss in as many weeks. LOSS 17-27 (7-6)

WEEK 15: HOUSTON TEXANS

This could essentially be the AFC South Championship right here. I said that the first time they met would be the game that decides the champion, and that is very likely true - but this could make it all but official. The Texans have never won in Indianapolis and the Colts will keep that going in 2013 as well. They get back in the win column by delivering a crushing blow to the Texans' division title hopes, taking the season sweep and moving to 4-1 in the South. WIN (8-6)

WEEK 16: @ KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

If you have to pick one team that was awful last year that could be competitive this year, pick the Kansas City Chiefs. They were the most talented team ever to get the first overall pick, and they significantly improved also by brining in Andy Reid as coach and Alex Smith as quarterback. The Chiefs are a real talented team that, with Reid's leadership, could begin to play up to it. Smith is not an elite quarterback by any means, but you could do much, much worse and he is a very solid signal caller who you can win with as long as you have a solid supporting cast. The Chiefs do, and they should finish second in the AFC West behind the Broncos. Arrowhead Stadium is always a tough place to play and the Chiefs should give the Colts a good test, but I think that, just like last year, the Colts win at Kansas City in the second last week of the season. WIN (9-6)

WEEK 17: JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Playing the Jaguars for the first time since week four, the Colts finish out the season with AFC South rival Jacksonville. The Jaguars always play the Colts competitive, and this game will be even more so than the first game, but Indy has a lot riding on this game - holding off the Texans for the AFC South title. The Colts win a hard-fought game and accomplish just that, while finishing the season 5-1 against the division. WIN (10-6)

SEASON OVERVIEW

The Colts conclude an impressive regular season by winning 7 of the last 9 games after the bye week. Andrew Luck wins his first AFC South championship and goes 5-1 in the division on his way to his second straight postseason appearance, this time guaranteeing the Colts a home playoff game. Not bad for a second year guy. While the Colts 11-5 record in 2012 was with a team with talent for a 6-7 win team, they overachieved and had a "magical" season. Not so in 2013. The Colts will be a legitimate 10 win team and will emerge as a real force in the NFL, one that teams will have to deal with for as long as Andrew Luck is under center for the Indianapolis Colts. They will be playoff bound once again. REGULAR SEASON RECORD: 10-6

PROJECTED 2013 AFC SOUTH STANDINGS:

RANK

TEAM

RECORD

VS. DIVISION

PLAYOFFS?

1

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

10-6

5-1

YES

2

HOUSTON TEXANS

9-7

3-3

YES (WC)

3

TENNESSEE TITANS

6-10

2-4

NO

4

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

4-12

2-4

NO

NOTABLE FORMER COLTS LIKELY TO FACE INDY THIS YEAR:

  • Jim Harbaugh, head coach, San Francisco 49ers (Colts QB 1994-1997)
  • David Caldwell, general manager, Jacksonville Jaguars (Colts scout 1998-2007)
  • Dwight Freeney, outside linebacker, San Diego Chargers (Colts DE/OLB 2002-2012)
  • Tom Telesco, general manager, San Diego Chargers (Colts VP of Football Operations / Director of Player Personell 1998-2012)
  • Peyton Manning, quarterback, Denver Broncos (Colts QB 1998-2011)
  • Jacob Tamme, tight end, Denver Broncos (Colts TE 2008-2011)
  • Moise Fokou, linebacker, Tennessee Titans (Colts LB 2012)
  • Bruce Arians, head coach, Arizona Cardinals (Colts offensive coordinator / interim head coach 2012, QB coach 1998-2000)
  • Jerraud Powers, cornerback, Arizona Cardinals (Colts cornerback 2009-2012)
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