This team is much better defensively than last years team and I would predict that Andrew Luck will take a step forward this year, because that is what really good quarterbacks do. However, the team's Pythagorean Expectation last year (win expectancy based on point differential) was for just 7.2 wins, which the Colts exceeded by 3.8 wins.
A quick explanation of the Pythagorean Expectation: basically what the formula says is that team X (in our case the Colts) should win Y games because of their point differential. Usually a large positive difference indicates that a team got lucky to a certain degree, and usually points towards a regression the next year. A large negative difference usually shows that a team will generally improve. It is extremely hard to beat the expectation every year, but the data suggests that great quarterbacks beat it more often than not. Take Peyton Manning for example, he ran off something like 9 straight seasons of beating the expectation, and rang up so many wins above the expectation that stats-heads said it was about 1 in a billion.
This brings us to our current situation. We have what we believe to be an elite quarterback, but went 9-1 in one touchdown games, had seven fourth quarter comebacks, and were the "luckiest" (no pun intended) team in the league.
Shortly after we lost in the playoffs to the Ravens last year, I took a look at all of this and said, well I dont think were gonna make the playoffs next year and 8-8 looks likely. There is simply no way we can replicate that sort of season again. Now, however, I think that the Colts can make the playoffs, because we seemed to have shored up the offensive and defensive lines and the secondary, to a degree that makes me feel like we can actually defend the pass and run the ball a little bit. Additionally, I like the way Luck has looked when he has played in the preseason. It looks as though he will indeed take a step forward this year, which has me very excited. I think that even if we are not as fortunate in one touchdown games, we will still win enough of them to make the playoffs and for the team to go 10-6 at minimum, but I think this team's Expectation will be more representative of their actual record (meaning the stats say that this team is better). So although I think we may see a step backwards on paper (measuring in wins), I think that the team will be better than last year's edition.