The 2018 NFL season is officially here. We are just five days away from meaningful football games. The Colts’ home opener is a chance for Frank Reich to get his first season off to a great start. But just what will that season look like?
That’s what we’re here to talk about. I’m going to take my best stab at some bold, but not absurd predictions for the Colts’ 2018 season. If I’m right, I’ll be sure to let you all know. If I’m wrong, I’m sure you’ll all be sure to remind me as well. So with that said, here are my bold predictions for the 2018 Indianapolis Colts this season:
Andrew Luck wins Comeback Player of the Year
We’re starting from the tamest to the craziest of my predictions. The NFL loves a narrative, and they’ve loved none quite as much over the last few months as discussing whether or not Andrew Luck can ever so much as lift his coffee mug with his right arm again. Without the benefit of actual evidence, most have speculated wildly and some even still refuse to view his play up until now as any kind of sign that he could return to form.
However, once he takes the field and starts putting on shows for the world to see, it will get pretty hard to ignore. The Colts don’t have a ton of prime time games, but all the same, Luck’s return to the field and any success he finds there will almost certainly earn him media attention. There will certainly be other candidates who could challenge him for this award, but given his time away from the game, and the ability he has to change the game, this one seems like a pretty strong possibility.
Marlon Mack finishes the season with at least 1,500 yards from scrimmage
This one might be my most likely prediction to fail, because assigning a number to something makes it immediately harder to hit. However, I’ve been very confident in Mack since last season, a feeling which was bolstered by the news that he had played 2017 with a torn labrum.
Mack was poorly utilized in 2017 in an uncreative offense which set him up to fail. Inside the confines of Frank Reich’s offense, that will not be the case. Mack is a home run threat every time the ball is in his hands, and the Colts have made significant improvements to their run blocking which should allow him to get through to the second level more frequently.
When you add in Reich’s likelihood of integrating in the short passing game and utilizing his running backs as a part of that game, this seems like the perfect situation for Marlon Mack to have a breakout year. The main hurdle for him to achieve this will be the tendency toward a committee approach at the running back position, but I expect that Mack will still get the lion’s share of the looks give his abilities.
Eric Ebron will lead all tight ends in receiving touchdowns
When I say I’m making bold predictions, I’m not messing around. This one is bold bordering on foolishness. Last year, Jimmy Graham held the honor of most touchdowns scored by a tight end with 10. Zach Ertz was next with 8. Neither of those guys looks to be in a much worse situation, in fact, Graham is now catching passes from Aaron Rodgers, so he is likely prime competition to derail this prediction.
Ebron’s production hasn’t come close to these kinds of numbers. In his best season, 2015, he had 5 touchdowns to his credit. That means this is a huge jump from what he has done in the past. The difference this season is that Ebron finds himself in a group with fewer high quality targets than past years. With the Lions he has competed with Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, Anquan Boldin, and Calvin Johnson for red zone looks.
This year’s Colts won’t have as many options to compete with, and Luck showed throughout camp that he and Ebron had developed an easy chemistry that could prove potent once the season gets under way. Production on this level would be a huge win for this team as well as for Ebron, who has struggled to live up to his status as a 10th overall pick.
The Colts’ defense will send 2 players to the Pro Bowl
While the Pro Bowl itself doesn’t matter much, this one would be a big win for the Colts’ defense, and I think it is absolutely in the realm of possibility. Safety Malik Hooker is obviously the most likely candidate to make the Pro Bowl, but I think there are a few others who could as well.
Jabaal Sheard has consistently been a very good player during his time in the league, and the Colts have made a shift in defensive scheme that should play to his strengths. He can now make it his primary duty to get after quarterbacks, which they’ll definitely need him to do. If he has a year like he is capable of, a Pro Bowl is certainly within his reach.
Another player who has shown all the makings of a Pro Bowl talent thus far in the offseason is linebacker Darius Leonard. Leonard has flashed all over the field as a rangy, dangerous player. If that playmaking ability and nose for the football carry over to the regular season, it would not be hard to envision the rookie making a Pro Bowl appearance in his first year in the league.
The Colts will win a playoff game
That’s right. You may be all doom and gloom about the Colts this season, but you won’t find that attitude coming from me. I’m not declaring them a contender or anything, but the conclusion that Andrew Luck paired with a good offensive mind can turn a team from a tough watch to a playoff team really quickly isn’t even that much of a stretch (eg. 2012 Colts).
Sure, the division is better than it was in 2012. However, the Jaguars managed to win just 10 games to take the division, and that was with a lot of things breaking their way. I’ve predicted that the Titans were going to be the best team in the division for the past two seasons, and they’ve disappointed. I don’t think they can stay healthy, and that has shown to be an issue already this season for them. The Texans have a formidable group, but have also struggled with health issues across the roster, and they’ve proven that if they lose a few of their key players, they struggle mightily.
That means that this division is wide open. While I’m not predicting a division win for the Colts, I do think they have the potential to sneak into the playoffs, and once there, earn a win against the Bengals, because Marvin Lewis wouldn’t be Marvin Lewis if he didn’t get bounced out of the first round of the playoffs.
There you have it, my 2018 Bold Predictions for the Indianapolis Colts. What are your predictions for this team?