Saturday, August 2, 2014

2014 NFL PREVIEW - Indianapolis Colts

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS                                            

2013 Record: 11-5-0

Key Additions: WR Hakeem Nicks; LB D'Qwell Jackson; DL Arthur Jones.

Key Losses: RB Donald Brown; WR Darrius Heyward-Bey; S Antoine Bethea; OL Samson Satale; DL Ricardo Mathews.

HEAD COACH: Chuck Pagano

Offense: The Colts will be looking to quarterback Andrew Luck, who threw for 3,822 yards with 23 touchdowns and just nine interceptions last season, to continue his climb up the ranks of top NFL quarterbacks this season. Veteran Matt Hasselbeck is the backup.
Trent Richardson was disappointing after coming over from Cleveland in a trade last year, but did manage to gain 458 rushing yards while scoring three touchdowns. Along with Ahmad Bradshaw (4.5 ypc average and two TD in limited action) and either Davin Meggett, Zurlon Tipton or Dan Herron, he will form the backfield in 2014 for the Colts. Vick Ballard (injured for all but one game last year) was being counted on as well but suffered an Achilles injury early in training camp and likely is out again this season.
The receivers have T.Y. Hilton (82 receptions for 1,083 yards with five TD) as the top wideout who is an emerging star. Hilton became Luck's primary target because Reggie Wayne (38, 503, seven TD) played just seven games before suffering a season-ending injury. Those two are the starters in 2014 with newcomer Hakeem Nicks (56 catches for 896 yards with the New York Giants in 2013) and rookie Donte Moncrief (Ole Miss) also available. The tight ends are Coby Fleener (52 receptions for 608 yards with four TD) and Dwayne Allen, who missed all of last season after making 45 grabs in his rookie season two years ago.
The line is comprised of center Khaled Holmes, guards Donald Thomas and Hugh Thornton and tackles Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus.

STATS - The Colts were middle of the pack on offense last year, gaining 342 yards per game (15th in NFL) while rushing for 109 yards and 233 passing. Indy was also middle of the pack in scoring (14th overall) averaging 24 points per game. They also protected the ball, turning it over just 14 times all season.

Defense: The Colts employ the 3-4 look and will have Arthur Jones at nose tackle with Cory Redding (4.5 quarterbacks sacks) and Ricky Jean Francois on the end positions. The linebackers include inside men D'Qwell Jackson and Jerrell Freeman (5.5 sacks) while Erik Walden and All-Pro Robert Mathis, who had a league leading 19.5 QB sacks, will be on the outside.
The secondary has corners Vontae Davis and Greg Toler with LaRon Landry and Delano Howell at the safety spot. Also in the fold for Indy is Darius Butler (four interceptions), Sheldon Price, Josh Gordy, Corey Lynch and Sergio Brown.

STATS - The Colts were 20th in the NFL on defense last year, giving up 357 yards per game (125 rushing and 232 passing) while allowing 21 points each week, which ranked them 9th overall. The team intercepted 15 passes and had 42 quarterback sacks while getting 27 turnovers.

OUTLOOK: The AFC South is theirs for the taking once again in 2014 as all three division opponents have major questions coming into this season. The Colts took a step forward last year by advancing into the divisional round of the NFL Playoffs and Head Coach Chuck Pagano would like to see them go even further this season.
As long as Luck continues to show his ability each week, the team will be just fine. The running game has to improve big time because Donald Brown, last season's team leading rusher, left via free agency for the San Diego Chargers.
The defense is decent enough to keep the Colts in most games, however they need to improve against the pass after giving up too many big plays. Along with Jackson, who comes over from Cleveland to play linebacker, Robert Mathis leads a solid pass rush, but he will be out for the first four games this year while he serves a suspension.
Indianapolis should win the AFC South again with a 10-6 record and will look to go further in the AFC playoffs this year. Whether or not they can do that will depend on an improved running game and the defense not getting torched by big plays. 

Week 1- at Denver
Week 2- vs. Philadelphia
Week 3- at Jacksonville
Week 4- vs. Tennessee
Week 5- vs. Baltimore
Week 6- at Houston
Week 7- vs. Cincinnati
Week 8- at Pittsburgh
Week 9- at NY Giants
Week 10- BYE WEEK
Week 11- vs. New England
Week 12- vs. Jacksonville
Week 13- vs. Washington
Week 14- at Cleveland
Week 15- vs. Houston
Week 16- at Dallas
Week 17- at Tennessee

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