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Stampede Blue’s Staff Season Predictions

Chicago Bears v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The season is upon us, which means it’s time to take a crack at some Super Bowl, MVP and Colts predictions. The Stampede Blue staff took out their magic crystal balls and are here to reveal what they saw.


Indianapolis Colts Predictions

Andrew Aziz

Record Prediction: 9-7

Team MVP: Darius Leonard

Breakout Candidate: Jacoby Brissett

The Colts might have a different look to them this year without Andrew Luck running the show, but I still expect them to compete for a playoff spot with a strong offensive line, good players at skill positions, a young and improving defense, and a very good coaching staff. Jacoby Brissett might not be Luck, but this will be his 2nd season as a starter in the NFL and his 2nd season with Frank Reich in his offense; expect him to take a nice step up and show that he’s a top 15-20 quarterback in this league.

Mateo Caliz

Record Prediction: 9-7

Team MVP: Darius Leonard

Breakout Candidate: Marlon Mack

The Colts will go 9-7, making the playoffs in large part because of a stingy defense and an elite running game behind the emergence of Marlon Mack as a top 5 running back. The team will finish first in the AFC South but will lose in the Wild Card game against either the Chargers or the Chiefs.

Alvaro Fernandez

Record Prediction: 6-10

Team MVP: Marlon Mack

Breakout Candidate: Kemoko Turay

There are many players that could be this season’s MVP, but I think I’ll take a flyer on a sleeper who I think is in for a big year: Marlon Mack. Ever since Luck unexpectedly stepped away from football, I’ve been riding the Mack Attack Bandwagon. Reich has many a time stated that he likes a 60-40 split between the running game and the passing game.

However, I could see the offense becoming even more balanced for two main reasons: One, Mack had 1,011 total scrimmage yards last season in only 10 starts while averaging 4.7 YPC. With a less talented and less experienced QB at the helm, I most certainly expect Reich to rely more heavily on the running game, even if it is just to take the load off his starting QB.

Secondly, one of Brissett’s strong points is the deep ball. In 2017, he was 9th in passes of 40+ yards. And how do you make it easier for your QB to complete it deep down the field? By successfully running the ball, forcing the opponents to stack the box, and operating play action at the correct times. Keep an eye on the USF product this season, because he could very well live up to Mr. Irsay’s promise of 1,500 scrimmage yards.

When it came to the breakout candidate, it must be noted that the Colts roster is loaded with a surplus of young, hungry players who could easily burst onto the scene this year. So it truly is a crapshoot when determining who will “break out” in 2019. Hooker could finally put a season together. The same thing goes for Quincy Wilson. Maybe Rock turns out to be an immediate lockdown corner. Or possibly either Campbell or Cain overtake Funchess as WR2. If you put a gun to my head and told me to pick just one, though, it has to be Turay. He’s looked dominant this preseason. His ability to prevent the run is still suspect, and he is slotted as a rotational rusher behind Houston, but I really think that this is the year for Kemoko to burst onto the scene as the next great Colts pass rusher.

Finally, I will admit, I’m not as optimistic as most when it comes to the 2019 season. Between the fact that I think that Brissett is still an unproven commodity and a schedule that includes a slate of playoff teams, I just don’t see the Colts winning many games. I think the scenarios we are facing are:

  • Worst-case scenario: We go 8-8 or 9-7, which means we have a mid-tier pick but we don’t make the playoffs
  • Probable scenario: Brissett displays his strong arm and poise, but he’s still a top 20 QB at best. We can’t beat teams like the Falcons, Saints, Steelers, Chiefs, Panthers, etc and we tank away the ending portion of the season in hopes of a high pick.
  • Dream scenario: Brissett proves that his 2017 was highly impacted by a sub-par roster and bad coaching staff. With two more years as a pro under his belt and Reich calling plays on the sidelines, the Colts beat all odds and go 11-5.

Elliot Singh Denton

Record Prediction: 10-6

Team MVP: TY Hilton

Breakout Candidate: Braden Smith

The 2019 Colts team has plenty of potential breakout candidates. The offense will only go as far as the offensive line does. The offensive line took a huge step last year to a top 5 in the league ranking. The unit returns all five starters including sophomore right tackle Braden Smith. Smith can build off of a solid rookie campaign and fully break out in his sophomore year as a consistent right tackle. Given the addition of Howard Mudd to the coaching staff over the Summer, Braden Smith had the perfect coaching mentor in place to facilitate him taking the next step in his technique and play to aid in his breakout.

Brett Mock

Record Prediction: 8-8

Team MVP: Marlon Mack

Breakout Candidate: Kemoko Turay

The Indianapolis Colts will have an uphill battle to face in the effort to replace Andrew Luck’s impact on football games. As much as I have faith in Frank Reich’s ability to get the most out of Jacoby Brissett, there are some absolutes I feel like the fan base has to acknowledge. Chief among them is that replacing legitimate franchise NFL quarterbacks is very hard.

The reality is Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger are still top tier options in today’s NFL. Andrew Luck was among that group. These players have been playing 14 years or more. During that time span, dozens of starting quarterbacks have come and gone and the only players who even come close to legitimately entering the discussion with them were Philip Rivers, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, and Matt Ryan (sorry it’s too soon to put Mahomes there). Four quarterbacks over 14 years. That’s how hard it is to find a game changing talent at the quarterback position.

The Indianapolis Colts have owned two of the best quarterbacks over the last 20 years. Can we honestly expect that Jacoby Brissett will find himself in the same conversation? If we can’t, can we honestly expect the Brissett will pick right up where Luck left off at the end of the season and cut through opponents like butter? I don’t think so. I think it’s more likely that, even if Brissett has a solid season, the Colts offense will reflect the loss of a generational talent.

The defense could be even better than it was a season ago, I expect it, but I’m not convinced that will pave the way for a fairy tale run back to the playoffs. If this year’s Colts team wants to get to the playoffs, I believe it has to happen through an AFC South Championship.


NFL Predictions

Andrew Aziz

NFL MVP: Russell Wilson

Super Bowl Matchup: New Orleans Saints vs Los Angeles Chargers

Super Bowl Winner: New Orleans Saints

Mateo Caliz

NFL MVP: Saquon Barkley

Super Bowl Matchup: New Orleans Saints vs New England Patriots

Super Bowl Winner: New Orleans Saints

Alvaro Fernandez

NFL MVP: Drew Brees

Super Bowl Matchup: New Orleans Saints vs Kansas City Chiefs

Super Bowl Winner: New Orleans Saints

Elliot Singh Denton

NFL MVP: Drew Brees

Super Bowl Matchup: Kansas City Chiefs vs New Orleans Saints

Super Bowl Winner: New Orleans Saints

Brett Mock

NFL MVP: Drew Brees

Super Bowl Matchup: New England Patriots vs New Orleans Saints

Super Bowl Winner: New England Patriots