It seems that what many of us have long noticed is becoming clear to those around the rest of the league. The Indianapolis Colts are not a team to be taken lightly. Injuries, rust, youth, and a whole new coaching staff got the Colts off to a stumbling start this season. 1-5 was pretty ugly, but for those who watched those games closely, there was a realization that they were much closer to being a winning franchise than they were to being as bad as that record.
With the return of Anthony Castonzo and an offense that has been far healthier across the board, this team has been rolling over its opponents. They have gone 5 weeks without allowing a sack. Their 29-26 win over the Jaguars is the fewest points the Colts have scored since playing the Patriots, as the offense has been surging.
Let’s take a look at how the Colts are being ranked compared with the competition.
Thankful for: Josh McDaniels’ change of heart. He verbally agreed to be the team’s head coach before leaving owner Jim Irsay and GM Chris Ballard at the altar when it was time to sign his contract. McDaniels’ decision to remain in New England is the best thing to happen to the Colts outside of Andrew Luck’s return and their solid offensive line play -- it allowed Indianapolis to get a coach, in Frank Reich, who has formed the perfect pairing with Luck. The Colts may not make the playoffs this season, but this franchise is finally headed in the right direction again, and Reich has played a significant factor in that.
It seems clear already that Frank Reich is a very good coach. Still, his most notable decision this season might haunt the Colts. Remember that he went for it on fourth down in his own territory late in overtime of a game against the Texans. They didn’t get it and the Texans won after a short drive. Reich could have punted and taken the tie. The Colts are two games behind the Texans, but they’d be just one back if Reich punted and took the half-win.
Andrew Luck won’t win MVP, but hopefully he’ll start to get deserved mentions as a guy who belongs on a very short list of candidates.
It’s happened quietly. Many haven’t even noticed that the Indianapolis Colts have shaken off the funk of a 1-5 start to get back on the fringes of playoff contention.
After the Colts blasted the Tennessee Titans on Sunday though, more folks will no doubt notice the Colts.
The Colts dominated this game from beginning to end. Whether it was Andrew Luck and the offense piling up 397 total yards or Darius Leonard and the defense holding the Titans to 87 rushing yards and one garbage-time touchdown, it was Indy’s most impressive performance in a good long while.
Mind you, this was the same Titans team that just blew out the New England Patriots a week ago. This was the one thing missing from the Colts’ recent win streak: a victory over a good (or at least decent) team.
Before the season, the presumption was that the AFC South was Jacksonville’s to lose. Eleven weeks in, the Jaguars are the only team in the division that isn’t in the race.
And the Colts’ Week 14 trip to Houston now looms as a potential game-changer, especially given that the Colts have a pair of winnable contests between now and then.
”I can’t believe I’m saying this,” Gagnon said, “but the Colts might be a top-10 team. The extremely well-protected Andrew Luck is playing some of the best football of his career, and they have enough talent on defense to give Luck at least a small margin for error. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they were to overtake the Houston Texans and win the AFC South.”
Wow. The Colts are the surprise of 2018, having now stacked up five wins on the season (and four in a row) to keep the pressure on the Texans in the AFC South. With Marcus Mariota hurt (and the Titans looking awful every few games) and the Jaguars blowing a big lead Sunday, the division looks to be a two-horse race. Can Indy stay with Houston? Much depends on Frank Reich’s defense, which allowed Tennessee just 185 yards of offense going into the fourth quarter of the Colts’ win before Blaine Gabbert tacked on a gaggle of garbage yards and points. Offensively, Indianapolis is protecting Andrew Luck magnificently, as the franchise quarterback played his fifth straight game without a sack. Don’t look now, but Reich is a straight-up contender for Coach of the Year, joining Andy Reid, Sean Payton or any other coach you can name.
The Rest of the AFC South
USA Today: 8th
Yahoo! Sports: 8th
Bleacher Report: 7th
Yahoo! Sports: 16th
Bleacher Report: 17th
USA Today: 25th
Yahoo! Sports: 25th
Bleacher Report: 24th