Power rankings during the season don't really mean anything. Power rankings in the offseason mean even less. But they do provide an interesting discussion point, and ESPN's recent power rankings are indeed interesting from a Colts perspective.
All offseason, we have talked about how the Colts were likely to be much quieter in free agency. General manager Ryan Grigson admitted as well that their philosophy would be different than in years past, and fans seemed to grasp that... until free agency started. Once the frenzy of the free agency period began, a lot of Colts fans began to worry about the lack of moves the Colts were making, particularly after seeing os many moves made by the team's AFC South rivals, the Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Tennessee Titans.
The Texans added quarterback Brock Osweiler, running back Lemar Miller, and guard Jeff Allen, among others. The Jaguars added defensive lineman Malik Jackson, safety Tashaun Gipson, cornerback Prince Amukamara, offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum, and running back Chris Ivory, among others. The Titans added running back DeMarco Murray, wide receiver Rishard Matthews, and center Ben Jones, among others. There's a legitimate case to be made that all three AFC South teams improved this offseason through free agency.
The Colts, meanwhile, were much quieter and more calculated in free agency. They re-signed two of their own players in Dwayne Allen and Adam Vinatieri, added a few backups in Robert Turbin, Jordan Todman, and Scott Tolzien, and added a starting cornerback in Patrick Robinson. They also let a few good players walk (Jerrell Freeman, Dwight Lowery, Coby Fleener) and are likely about done in free agency, besides for another small move or two. For Colts fans freaking out about how the offseason has gone in the AFC South, however, here's the message that ESPN's power rankings try to send: R-E-L-A-X.
ESPN's post-free agency power rankings have the Colts exactly where the team was in the post-Super Bowl power rankings - at number 11 - and have the Colts as the highest-ranked team in the AFC South. The power rankings are based on points received in the voting, and the Colts received 581 points. The Colts are also the highest-ranked team that didn't make the playoffs last year and in fact ahead of two teams that did make the postseason (the Texans and the Redskins).
Stats & Information's take: Cornerback Patrick Robinson was the Colts' only notable signing as Indy works on a new deal for Andrew Luck. The Colts were 2-5 WITH Luck starting last season.
The Houston Texans are right behind the Colts, however, at number 12 (560 points), while the Jacksonville Jaguars are 29th (194 points) and the Tennessee Titans are 31st (83 points).
It looks as if the Texans, Jaguars, and Titans have all closed the gap on the Colts, but with Andrew Luck returning healthy for the 2016 season, the Colts are still expected to be at or near the top of the division and could still be considered the team to beat. That's what ESPN's power rankings have, as the Colts are the highest-ranked team in the division post-free agency despite not doing much.
This isn't meant to suggest that this offseason is suddenly less important for the Colts or that there's not as much pressure to nail this draft, but it hopefully does provide a chance to step back, take a deep breath, and realize that the Colts should still be a competitive team as long as Andrew Luck is healthy. The goal for the Colts, however, is Super Bowl, and while they're not ready to compete for a title just yet, they are indeed ready to compete for a bad AFC South division title as long as Luck is healthy.