Last season the Colts proved they could play with the best teams defeating San Francisco and handing the Seahawks and Broncos their first losses of the season. There were also some weird losses such as getting blown out by the Rams and Cardinals. The high point of the season was the 28 point comeback against the Chiefs in the playoffs.
What do Andrew Luck and the Colts have in terms of an encore for 2014?
The Colts will win this division and most likely win the AFC South for the next few seasons. I know that will upset my fellow football prognosticator who roots for various Houston sports teams, but since the creation of the AFC South in 2002 the Colts have won the division 8 times and have made the playoffs every year except for the 2011 season when Peyton Manning was out with a neck injury.
The Colts have a tough start when they visit Denver for the Sunday Night opener and then a Monday Night encounter at home against the Eagles the following week. Joe Flacco and the Ravens visit Indianapolis in Week 5 followed by visiting Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers in Week 8 and Eli Manning and the Giants in Week 9. After their bye week, the Colts host the Patriots in Week 11. Last season the Patriots ended the Colts season in the playoffs. Week 13 is the first regular season meeting between the top two picks in the 2012 NFL Draft as Washington led by quarterback Robert Griffin III comes to town. Week 16 could have deep playoff implications as the Colts travel to Jerry World to take on the Cowboys.
Now I am contractually obligated to say something positive about a Houston based sports team so here goes.
In the offseason, the Texans hired Bill O'Brien from Penn State. During his two seasons in Happy Valley, O'Brien comprised a 15-9 record. With the first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans selected Jadeveon Clowney. Along with linebacker J.J. Watt, Houston's defense will be one to watch in 2014.
While the offense still has running back Arian Foster and wide receiver Andre Johnson on the team, this is still a league driven by quarterbacks. The Texans do not have one.
Well… they do… it's Ryan Fitzpatrick who has appeared in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Buffalo, and Tennessee.
Prior to the start of the regular season the Texans released Case Keenum and traded a draft pick to the Patriots for Ryan Mallett.
I see Houston winning 6 games this season, but if they get to .500 it would be considered a success.
Speaking of success, these teams are not. The Tennessee Titans are giving the Jake Locker experiment one more season. The Jaguars drafted UCF quarterback Blake Bortles with the third overall pick and USC wide receiver Marqise Lee in the second round of the recent NFL draft. For now Chad Henne is the starter in Jacksonville, but you can expect that Bortles will see playing time.
The Jaguars will host another London game. This time against Dallas in Week 10. The Jaguars home finale is against the Titans on Thursday night in Week 16 which is the Jaguars only scheduled prime time. By then both teams will have been long eliminated for post-season contention and playing for draft positioning.
Fun fact about the Jacksonville Jaguars: If your team lost to the Jaguars last season, your coach was fired.
And, no that is not a type-o. Both the Jaguars and Titans are pretty bad that I cannot determine which team will be better out of this bunch. The Jaguars MIGHT be better as the Titans go into full 2-14 mode, but it won't be much. It is just easier to say that both teams will finish in the AFC South basement.
The Colts will finish atop a weak division but will it be enough to crack the top two in the AFC and allow Andrew Luck to take that next step?