The Colts were a trending Super Bowl pick last season, and this season they want to be a favorite


Stephen Gilmore

Stephen Gilmore
photo: Getty Images

The Indianapolis Colts certainly weren’t thrilled with the way their 2021 season ended. It got off to a disappointing start, losing the first three games. They improved but still lost twice to division rivals Tennessee Titans, including a heartthrob at home – 34-31 in overtime. Then the Colts went on a tear.

They won six of their next seven games, forcing people to realize their roster was one of the deepest in the NFL. When they were healthy, their offensive line was excellent and their home ball carrier Jonathan Taylor was exceptional behind this group, totaling 2,171 yards from scrimmage and 20 touchdowns. Michael Pittman Jr. showed he’s a capable No. 1 wide receiver with 88 catches for 1,082 yards and six touchdowns. The Colts’ defense was ranked seventh overall in the Football Outsiders weighted DVOA.

In Week 17, the Colts made a snazzy pick to win the Super Bowl, and then their season ended with a loud fart instead of a bang. They lost at home to the Las Vegas Raiders but still only needed to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars to make the playoffs. The Jaguars, who fired their coach a few weeks ago, Urban Mayer, during one of the great single-season disasters in NFL history ended their season with the big consolation prize of their second win of the season and the bonus of knocking out a division rival from the playoffs — the Colts.

This overloaded roster couldn’t make a seven-team playoff, so they decided to make some changes rather than godfather. For one, they didn’t hesitate to ditch Carson Wentz after a season and the full 185 yards he threw on 17 pass attempts in a must-win game against a terrible team. The Colts line up with a different starter this season, the ever-consistent Matt Ryan. The 2016 MVP may not be spectacular, but there’s a good chance it won’t be spectacularly terrible, especially on such a talented team.

Unhappy with their defense, the Colts signed a contract with another NFL honoree. Today her signed 2019 Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore will be handed a two-year deal. He was traded from the New England Patriots to the Carolina Panthers in the middle of last season. He will play Pro Bowl cornerback Kenny Moore II.

Gilmore wasn’t the only player the Colts added to their strong defense. To boost their pass rush, they traded Yannick Ngakoue, who totaled 10 sacks last season for the second double-digit sack season of his career. He will join a front seven that already includes some of the NFL’s best players in Darius Leonard and DeForest Buckner.

The Colts could use some speed at wide receivers, but unfortunately their biggest weakness this year is not having a first-round draft pick. Still, this is a deep wide receiver class, and Chris Ballard has proven great at finding talent in every round of the NFL draft.

They had every reason to be upset about the end of last season, but there’s no guarantee going all out, especially in the loaded AFC. The Colts still have to battle the Titans in their division, and a playoff matchup against the Buffalo Bills, the Kansas City Chiefs or the 2021 AFC champions, Cincinnati Bengals is on the horizon. The Baltimore Ravens should also have better injury luck than last season, and the Cleveland Browns will also be a championship contender after the encore Deshaun Watsonand they’ll also hope the injury virus doesn’t bite as hard in 2022.

The road to the Super Bowl is by no means smooth for the Indianapolis Colts, but they loaded as best they could for the trip. It’s a roster that rivals anyone in the NFL, all they have to do now is stay as healthy as possible and avoid tripping over their own two feet again at the end of the season.

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