NFL writer Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports published a piece — linked here — which lists his most underrated teams going into the 2021 season.
Right below the Denver Broncos come the Indianapolis Colts. Benjamin, in part, writes, “How in the world can a team fresh off 11 wins — a team that’s won 28 games and made the playoffs in two of Frank Reich’s three seasons as coach — be underrated? For one, the national buzz is still lagging. The Buccaneers, Chiefs and Packers all have more firepower as Super Bowl favorites, but considering Reich’s track record, Indy deserves more love.”
I agree with Benjamin’s stance — a team doesn’t necessarily have to be have a terrible record to be considered underrated. He’s also correct in highlighting the fact that Indy doesn’t receive nearly as much national attention as some of the more well-known teams in the league.
Many experts wrote the Colts off prior to the 2020 season after the signing of Philip Rivers. Sure, there were speculations, concerns and even questions surrounding just how much Rivers had left in the tank. Could he bounce back from an atrocious season with the Chargers and play well enough and not hold Indy back? Those were fair concerns.
All Rivers did was throw for over 4,000 yards and toss 24 touchdowns to only 11 interceptions. While he may have had a bit of a rocky start, the veteran quarterback was surgical for the latter half of last season. Moreover, Rivers nearly helped orchestrate what would’ve likely been the biggest upset of the 2020 playoffs, but came up just short in beating the Buffalo Bills.
Enter Carson Wentz — the mobile, strong-armed quarterback who, like Rivers, is coming off an awful season with his former team. Now that he and Frank Reich have been reunited, many expect the 28-year-old to pick up where he and Reich left off in 2017.
The team will go as far as Wentz can take them. But, make no mistake, Indy’s offense and defense as a whole aren’t something to overlook either. We know how explosive the Colts’ running game can be with Jonathan Taylor and Marlon Mack carrying the rock. Michael Pittman Jr. is a rising star, too. Both T.Y. Hilton and Parris Campbell present a mismatch with their ability to get behind defenders so quickly, and Zach Pascal is as reliable a receiver as Indy has.
Additionally, a top 10 defensive unit, now given another season under defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, could ascend into one of the more elite defenses in the league this season.
If Wentz can perform even remotely close to how Rivers did last season and their defense can continue to trend upward, the Colts are going to be a team nobody wants to play in 2021.