The NFL regular season is finally upon us and Dan Hanzus, a writer and analyst for NFL.com, has already put out his Power Rankings ahead of Week 1.
No. 16 is where Hanzus has the Indianapolis Colts ranked, which may be a bit too low for some when you take into consideration a few of the other AFC teams that are ranked ahead. The Los Angeles Chargers come in at No. 12, the New England Patriots at No. 13 and division-rival Tennessee is ranked a whopping five spots ahead of Indy at No. 11.
Hanzus writes, in part, “The Colts should have both Carson Wentz and Quenton Nelson on the field for Week 1 against the Seahawks, but it’s fair to wonder if this Indy team will be ready to roll when the games count.”
The Colts do have the NFLs toughest five-game stretch to start the season, as they face the Seahawks, Rams, Titans, Dolphins and Ravens, all of whom won 10 games or more last season.
Additionally, we know that Indy’s offense got off to a slow start last season, and with the injuries the team has faced to several key players — leading to a lack of necessary and crucial practice time for some starters — the question about whether or not the Colts will be fully prepared when facing top-tier competition is a fair one.
On the flipside, though, the Colts are also one of the league’s most well-prepared/coached teams. Head coach Frank Reich and the rest of the team’s staff have quite the track record of making sure their players are put in the best possible position to win.
Now, Indy’s preparedness doesn’t always lead to wins, as we know how important execution is in trying to achieve sustained success over the course of a season.
So, are the Colts ranked too low? Perhaps. After all, the team did finish 11-5 last season, had an offense that was capable of putting up points and eating away the clock with the running game, and a defense which was Top 10 as well.
Indy also went toe-to-toe with the Buffalo Bills, one of the league’s most well-rounded and explosive teams, indicating to many that they were a team on the rise.
But the upcoming 2021 season brings new faces, challenges and questions for a team with such high expectations.
What will the Colts’ offense look like with Wentz at the helm? How will T.Y. Hilton’s absence effect the offense’s production? Can the pass rush, specifically at edge, take that next step? Can the secondary continue to make positive strides in the right direction?
All of these questions will be answered as the season progresses.
There’s one thing we know for certain: The Colts, regardless of where they rank currently, are going to have to earn the right to be considered one of the NFLs best teams this season.