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Are the Indianapolis Colts Legitimate Super Bowl Contenders?

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The Indianapolis Colts certainly are not a perfect team, but Super Bowl winners don’t necessarily have to be. Are the Colts legitimate contenders?

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This post comes from Justin Becker of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow him on Twitter @NBAandNFLInfo or on the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more Indianapolis Colts Rumors and News visit Fantasy Football Overdose.

The Indianapolis Colts certainly are not a perfect team, but Super Bowl winners don’t necessarily have to be. The 2012 Baltimore Ravens and the 2011 New York Giants come to mind right away. Those teams had flaws in their game that they managed to cover with strong coaching, a dominant defense and a little luck. The Colts may have all the luck they need playing at the quarterback position.

The Colts offense runs through the arm of quarterback Andrew Luck. He is having an MVP caliber season, with 22 touchdowns and 2,731 passing yards through half a season. He has gone over 300 yards through the air in all but one game and has at least 40 passing attempts in all but two. That’s not exactly the type of balanced approach on offense that most coaches tend to preach about, but with the Colts, it’s the strength of their offense and puts them in the best position to win week after week. Last year, Luck had more than 40 attempts in just four games all season. That’s the main difference in this year’s Colts team; their willingness to put the game in Luck’s hands.

The Colts offense has benefited from having Rob Chudzinski join the team during the offseason. After Chudzinski was fired as head coach of the Cleveland Browns, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano wasted no time finding a spot for him on his coaching staff.

"Rob and I have a long professional relationship and his résumé speaks for itself," Pagano said in a statement released by the team at the time of Chud’s hiring. "He brings a wealth of knowledge and will be a tremendous help to our entire team moving forward. Needless to say, we're excited to have 'Chud' joining our family."

Hamilton looked lost at times as the offensive coordinator last season, his first year in that role for the Colts. Chudzinski, an offensive-minded coach, brings 20 years of coaching experience to a relatively young coaching staff. That experience earned Chudzinski the title of Special Assistant to the Head Coach.

Luck has one dynamic playmaker at the wide receiver position in T.Y. Hilton and one reliable, though aging, option in Reggie Wayne. The Colts have been moving Hilton all over the formation, asking him to catch everything from bubble screens to deep bombs. He has had over 100 yards in the past four out of five games. Hilton is a born playmaker that continues to get better as the season progresses. He only has two touchdown catches so far this season, but he has never been much of a red zone threat due to his diminutive size.

Wayne is now battling an elbow injury and didn’t play in week eight and his status for week nine is still up in the air. That leaves the uninspiring trio of Griff Whalen, Hakeem Nicks and Donte Moncrief to fight for snaps behind T.Y. Hilton. Luck is able to make any receiver look better than they really are, but he has his work cut out for him without Wayne in the lineup. Moncrief may have the most potential out of the group, but is still very raw as a third round rookie out of Mississippi. If he can step up in the second half of the season, it’ll make life much easier for the Colts offense once the playoffs start.

For as one-dimensional as the Colts offense seems, it’s not from a lack of trying. Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson have had their fair share of attempts but haven’t produced much. The ineffective rushing game could be a major hurdle for the Colts as they take on better defenses in the playoffs. Ahmad Bradshaw has been much more effective than Trent Richardson this year and a change in the backfield could produce a more effective running game going forward. The Colts may have to admit the trade for Trent Richardson last season was a huge mistake and keep him in a change-of-pace role behind workhorse Ahmad Bradshaw going forward. Perhaps the plan is to wait until the end of the season to keep Bradshaw fresh for the playoffs, when he’ll be needed the most.

In prior years, the Colts defense may have been the biggest concern for their Super Bowl hopes. They were quietly been off to a strong start this season before allowing Ben Roethlisberger to throw for over 500 hundred yards and 6 touchdowns in the week eight loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. They suffered a lot of injuries on defense in the loss as well. Outside of the Broncos and Eagles, the Colts’ defense hasn’t been challenged by elite offenses and only have a few really good ones left on the schedule this season. It may give them a false sense of confidence heading into the playoffs, but confidence can carry a team a long way.

After losing their first two games to start the season, the Colts were on fire with five straight wins heading into week eight against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steeler made them loock silly though, racking up incredible yardage on offense. The remainder of their schedule is pretty soft, with the toughest games coming in week 10 against the New England Patriots and week 15 against the Dallas Cowboys. Those two games will be an excellent test for the Colts defense as they prepare for a playoff push.

It’s very likely that the Indianapolis Colts will meet the Denver Broncos in the playoffs this year. That’s sure to cause a media storm as Peyton Manning only has a few chances left to win a Super Bowl and he would be playing against his successor in Andrew Luck. Quarterbacks aside though, the Denver Broncos seem to be a much better team than the Indianapolis Colts this year. I believe the Colts are legitimate Super Bowl contenders, but they should be hoping someone else can knock the Denver Broncos out of the playoffs before they get stuck playing against them in a win or go home situation.