Every summer, Football Outsiders releases their projected standings and win totals for the NFL teams, and this year ESPN was able to get their hands on the list early for Todd McShay's 2016 Mock Draft. You can find the standings and projected records here (its an insider piece), but let's take a look at what they say about the Indianapolis Colts.
Football Outsiders predicts the Colts to win the AFC South, which would be the third consecutive division title for the team and should come as no surprise. What does come as a bit of a surprise, however, is that they project the Colts to go 10-6 in 2015. Here's what Aaron Schatz wrote:
The AFC South is becoming the shampoo, rinse, repeat division. Once again, we are projecting the Colts to overcome some of their roster holes to win the division thanks to great quarterback play and an easy schedule. The Colts made a number of big free-agent signings this offseason, but things like "32-year-old running back" and "aging future Hall of Fame receiver replacing another aging future Hall of Fame receiver" don't really move the projection needle. Adding an elite pass-rusher does, but does Trent Cole really qualify for that designation after just 14.5 sacks in the past two seasons?
Keep in mind that they have the right to change these win totals until the publication of the Football Outsiders Almanac in July, but 10 wins seems like a low projection for the Colts. They figure to have one of the easiest schedules in football, one of the best quarterbacks in football, and an improved team from those that have won 11 games in each of the past three seasons. Things could always change, but I don't see this team finishing with a worse record than the teams of the last three years, especially with their schedule.
If things played out this way, the Colts would still finish with either the second or third overall seed in the AFC playoffs (depending on the head-to-head result with Denver since both teams are projected to go 10-6), with the Miami Dolphins as the number one seed. And if, as Football Outsiders predicts, an 11-5 record would be good enough for the top overall seed and home field advantage in the AFC, then you'd have to think that the Colts would feel very good about it. Most people predict the Colts to win 12 or 13 games, not 10, in which case they could quite possibly take the top seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
I know its the job of every fan base to think that the projected win total is low for their favorite team regardless of what that win total actually is, but for the Colts I think ten wins is a low projection. What are your thoughts?