2012 REGULAR SEASON: 164-91*-1 (.643)
PLAYOFFS: 7-3 (.700)
SUPER BOWL: 1-0 (1.000)
COLTS PREDICTIONS: 13-4 (.765)
I know, I know... you're all mad at me.
"9-7!! 9-7!! You no good, lousy sack of animal feces.... This is the Colts year! I hope you die! You didn't predict I was going to go f%$@!?% insane and whip your a$$, did you Predictificationist? You should stay in your mom's basement where you belong!"
This is a small sampling of the love letters I received after picking the Colts to finish 9-7 this season and finish second in the AFC South. I gotta admit, you all were pretty tame this year compared to last year (you all need to step your games up). At least I picked them to make the playoffs - AND WIN A PLAYOFF GAME.
Let's face it - last year was magical. How many times did we say last season that Hollywood would have rejected the 2012 script as 'too improbable'? Remember Hollywood even decided to make 'The Happening' (known around my house as 'The Crappening') so that must make the story of the 2012 Indianapolis Colts pretty unbelievable.
And I enjoyed every minute of it - as did you.
The problem is that it has created some unrealistic expectations for year two. Can the Colts do better than the 11-5 record they posted last year? Maybe, but probably not. Think about all of the changes that the team has on each side of the ball:
- Conservative estimate of 4-5 different starters on the offensive side of the ball - that's nearly HALF of the starting unit from last season!
- Conservative estimate of 4-5 different starters on the defensive side of the ball - again, nearly HALF of the starting unit from last season!
- New offensive philosophy and offensive coordinator.
- They won't be catching anyone off-guard this year (a la Green Bay last year).
Now, I believe the changes that the team made this offseason are for the better - but in the long-term. To think that this team is going to walk out of training camp and the preseason better than last season is absurd. It takes time to build chemistry (especially along the offensive line) and, due to some unfortunate circumstances (Chuck Pagano's leukemia) this team gelled quicker than normal last year. Remember, the team was 1-2 (and going into halftime against the Green Bay Packers staring 1-3 dead in the face) before the magic started.
I think it'll take some time and that's why I picked the Colts to go 9-7. Could I be wrong? Maybe (but probably not). I'm guessing it'll land within a game either way (10-6 or 8-8) - time will tell. Because of all the new faces, I predict that the Colts will start slow. Here is EARLY season picks...
RAIDERS - (1-0) The Raiders won't do well with a young team travelling across the country for the first game of the year. Colts should win this one.
DOLPHINS - (2-0) I think the Dolphins are a year away from being a team that is a playoff contender. They aren't there yet and the Colts benefit from opening the season with two at home.
@ 49ERS - (2-1) The 49ers are too much too early for the Colts. Tough first test on the road to travel across the country to play a Super Bowl favorite.
@ JAGUARS - (3-1) The Colts should benefit from getting to play Jacksonville twice each season - it doesn't seem fair to teams outside of the AFC South.
SEAHAWKS - (3-2) This should be a close game. I'm giving the edge to the Seahawks because they seem to know exactly who they are - the Colts won't know yet.
@ SAN DIEGO - (3-3) This is your classic 'looking past' game. With the Manning/Luck showdown looming the Colts struggle in San Diego (as they always seem to). Part of this could be the fatigue of being on the road for the third time in four weeks, including two long distance trips to California.
BRONCOS - (3-4) This game will be close and give NBC all it could hope for on Sunday Night Football. I don't think there is anyway that Peyton Manning lets the Broncos lose this game - but stranger things have happened.
@ TEXANS - (3-5) The Texans beat the Colts in Houston for the fourth straight season.
RAMS - (4-5) Things don't get much easier for the Colts facing a tough Rams team, but I think they find a way to win and start to get their season back on track.
@ TITANS - (5-5) The Titans aren't going to go down easy but the Colts are the better team. They should win this one.
@ CARDINALS - (5-6) Don't make light of the Cardinals under Bruce Arians. Carson Palmer is better than people seem to think and Arizona's defense was one of the best in the league last year. Arians will have a thing or two to throw at the Colts and I think the Cardinals pull this one out. Could go either way.
TITANS- (6-6) The Colts should beat the Titans twice this year.
@ BENGALS - (6-7) The Bengals have made a lot of 'teams to watch' lists - and with good reason. They have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball and could challenge the Ravens and the Steelers for the AFC North crown. I don't like it, but they will probably beat the Colts in Cincinnati.
TEXANS - (7-7) The Colts beat the Texans in Indianapolis for the eleventh straight year (every year of the Texans' existence). Houston can't win in Indianapolis and the Colts will be fighting for their playoff lives.
@ CHIEFS - (8-7) I give Andy Reid a lot of credit and the Chiefs might be dangerous, but I think the Colts win this game. This will probably be their best win on the road of 2013.
JAGUARS - (9-7) The Colts will be thankful to see Jacksonville at home to end the year. Needing a win (and some help) to clinch a playoff spot, the lowly Jaguars are exactly what the doctor ordered.
So, there you have it - my detailed explanation (as if I have to explain myself). Now, what can we expect from Andrew Luck in year two?
I studied the career paths of Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, Matthew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, Sam Bradford and Ben Roethlisberger over their first two (full) years and measured the lift in their numbers. There were other factors to consider (missed games, injuries, surrounding talent, etc.) but I used the data to project what we can expect from Luck this year.
ANDREW LUCK - 2012
23 TD, 18 INT, 4374 yards, 54% completion
ANDREW LUCK - 2013 (projected)
29 TD, 15 INT, 4786 yards, 61% completion
Luck should see a big jump in his completion percentage thanks to the addition of Pep Hamilton. The average quarterback sees his TD numbers jump about 25% in year two and interceptions usually drop about 15%. I think we can all agree that this would be a solid second year for the new face of the franchise.
On a final note, I must say my final goodbyes. I've had a busy offseason and accomplished several of my goals. One of them was to finally put my good looks to use and become a model (thanks to the Indianapolis Colts for using my family for their 'COLTSTRONG' campaign) and the other was to make this hobby (writing) a career. I've taken a position with USA Football as a writer for their new social media/blogging campaign. My demands were large (food and shelter) and negotiations were tough (who needs shelter?) but in the end, the opportunity was too good to pass up.
Don't worry, I will be sure to post about how smart I am frequently in the Fan Posts section.
Until then, you guys can always come and make fun of me at USAFootball.com.
P.S. - Brad, does this mean I can't bunk with you in your mom's basement anymore?