Yesterday, we took a look at the worst-case scenario for the Indianapolis Colts in 2016 and determined that it would be ending up with a top-ten pick in the 2017 Draft and having Andrew Luck either get injured or play horribly.
Today, we look at a more positive discussion: what's the (realistic) best-case scenario for the Colts?
Obviously, any such discussion ends with a Super Bowl win. That's the goal for every team at this time of year, though for some it's an unrealistic one. I don't think it's any secret that I think the Colts are a year away from legitimately contending for a championship, but at the same time I don't group them in the same category as some of the teams with unrealistic or unattainable Super Bowl hopes. The reasoning is simple: the Colts have Andrew Luck.
In today's NFL, a franchise quarterback can elevate a team to the level of contender overnight, and we've seen Luck do that for the Colts before - perhaps most notably with an AFC Championship game appearance in 2014 and three straight playoff appearances to begin his career. Teams like the 2015 Broncos are rare exceptions, as often it takes good quarterback play to make the playoffs and make a run in the playoffs. So that's why, despite all of the flaws, holes, and question marks the Colts have, I think that if Andrew Luck returns to form and plays at an all-pro level, the Colts do have a chance to compete for a Super Bowl if things work in their favor.
By that, I mean that they'll need their defense to be at the very worst solid, good enough to keep the Colts out of shootout situations and give their offense a little bit of breathing room. They'll need their offensive line to keep Luck upright. And they'll likely need a bit of luck, too (no pun intended) - such as avoiding a trip to New England in January, for example (or even a trip to Pittsburgh, for that matter). The Colts will need the playoff race to give them a bit of help, but if that happens and Luck is playing well, it's possible the Colts could make the Super Bowl. Then, it comes down to one game, and if there's one thing we've seen from the Colts over the past four years it's this: they are capable of beating any team on any given Sunday. That was evidenced by their win over the Broncos last year, as they have the potential to beat anyone in a one-game setting. Their problem has been putting those games together consistently, which is why I think they may need a bit of help in the AFC playoffs, but if they get to the Super Bowl they'd certainly be capable of winning it.
Obviously, most people (including myself) aren't going to predict this, just like most people (including myself) aren't going to predict a five or six win season. There's a reason we're calling these the best and worst case scenarios - because it's the range of possibility, not the range of most likely. Unlike last year, most people aren't going to pick the Colts to win the Super Bowl, as most are debating whether Indy will even win the division or not. But if we're talking the dream, ideal situation for the Colts, it would be a 12-4 record (maaaybe 13 wins), a division title, a terrific season for Andrew Luck, an easier AFC playoff schedule (with no trip to New England), a Super Bowl appearance, and a Lombardi Trophy to cap it off. Unlikely? Without a doubt. Possible? Yes, but it'd be a surprise.