INDIANAPOLIS COLTS 2022 WIN PREDICTION

BY ADAM GREENE

For whatever reason the Indianapolis Colts agreed to be the first NFL team featured on an in-season HBO’s Hard Knocks. It worked out about as well as can be suspected. After Philip Rivers retired at the end of 2020 season, head coach Frank Reich convinced team owner Jim Irsay and general manager Chris Ballard that Carson Wentz was the man to replace him. And we got to watch it all explode in real time.

It’s too bad this year’s tribute, the Arizona Cardinals, apparently weren’t paying attention.

In spite of Wentz and Reich’s love of trading Bible verses, somehow things didn’t work out that well on the field. The Colts opened the season 0-3 with losses to the Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Rams and Tennessee Titans. They went 3-2 over their next five before reeling off three consecutive victories due in large part to hosting the New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars. The game that really got everybody’s attention, and the one that gave them a winning record for the first time in 2021 was a 41-15 beatdown of the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo.

They lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a shootout, 38-31, but this looked like a good team. One that would get into the playoffs at least as a Wild Card and do some real damage with the NFL’s best running back standing, Jonathan Taylor. Indy won three straight, but fell by a field goal to the Las Vegas Raiders on Jan. 2, in a game that turned out to have all the playoff implications.

Heading into Week 18, Indianapolis’ math was easy — beat Jacksonville and you’re in the playoffs. With everything laid out before them and playing the league’s worst team, one that had already secured the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, the Colts had their worst performance of the season, losing 26-11.

There would be no return to the postseason and Wentz’s tenure with the team would walk The Green Mile.

Wentz started every game, thanks to the NFL relaxing its COVID-19 protocols and had a decent season statistically, really proving the old adage that stats don’t tell the whole story. He completed 62.4 percent of his passes for 3,563 yards, 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He rushed for 215 yards and a score.

Taylor capped a first team All Pro and Pro Bowl season leading the NFL with 1,811 yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. He added 360 yards receiving and two receiving TDs. Michael Pittman Jr. caught 88 passes for 1,082 yards and six scores.

The defense finished No. 9 in points allowed and No. 16 in yardage allowed. DeForest Buckner led the unit with seven sacks. Al-Quadin Muhammad notched six.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Last season: 9-8

Odds: Over 9.5 wins (-165), Under 9.5 wins (+135)

2022 NFL Draft: Alec Pierce, WR, Cincinnati (Round 2), Jelani Woods, TE, Virginia (Round 3), Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan (Round 3), Nick Cross, Safety, Maryland (Round 3), Eric Johnson, DT, Missouri State (Round 5), Andrew Ogletree, TE, Youngstown State (Round 6), Curtis Brooks, DT, Cincinnati (Round 6), Rodney Thomas, DB, Yale (Round 7)

2022 Additions: Matt Ryan, QB (trade), Yannick Ngakoue, Edge (trade), Stephon Gilmore, CB (free agent), Nick Foles, QB (free agent), Brandon Facyson, CB (free agent), Rodney McLeod, Safety (free agent), Dennis Kelly, OT (free agent), Amani Watts, Safety (free agent), Philip Lindsay, RB (free agent), Ifeadi Odenigbo, DE (free agent), Jason Spriggs, OT (free agent), Bryan Cox Jr., DE (free agent), Brandon Kemp, OT (free agent), Ty’Son Williams, RB (free agent)

Projected Starters

Offense

QB: Matt Ryan

RB: Jonathan Taylor

WR: Michael Pittman, Jr.

WR: Parris Campbell

WR: Alec Pierce

TE: Mo Alli-Cox

LT: Matt Pryor

LG: Quenton Nelson

C: Ryan Kelly

RG: Danny Pinter

RT: Braden Smith

Defense

LDE: Kwity Paye

LDT: DeForest Buckner

RDT: Grover Stewart

RDE: Yannick Ngakoue

WLB: Shaquille Leonard

MLB: Bobby Okereke

SLB: Zaire Franklin

CB: Kenny Moore II

CB: Stephon Gilmore

SS: Nick Cross

FS: Rodney McLeod

Special Teams

PK: Rodrigo Blankenship

P: Rigoberto Sanchez

PR: Nyheim Hines

KR: Isiah Rodgers

PREVIEW

The Colts opened the 2022 offseason by fixing one of the biggest self-inflicted problems of the last season — trading with the Atlanta Falcons to add Matt Ryan at quarterback while shipping Carson Wentz to the Washington Commanders.

They brought in edge rusher Yannick Ngokoue in another trade and grabbed a free agency coup when they slid Stephon Gilmore into their defense.

This is a better team than last year’s squad that barely missed the postseason. But they’ll take the field in a significantly tougher AFC. On the bright side, they do play in that conference’s worst division.

And it’s that reason they’ll open the year strong, with two road games at the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars. And while the Jags might be tougher than people expect, the Colts will be favored in both games. The have a brutal match up with the Kansas City Chiefs in Indy before hosting the Tennessee Titans. That looks like a 3-1 start to me and it wouldn’t be a shocker to see a 4-0 first month.

Any tough game on Indianapolis Schedule is usually surrounded by multiple cupcakes. They play at the Denver Broncos before getting the Jaguars at home. Their rematch with the Titans comes the next week followed by the Washington Commanders and New England Patriots (who I expect to be down this year).

They have a vicious streak beginning on Nov. 13 with the Las Vegas Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings and Los Angeles Chargers (with a bye slipped in before the Vikes) and how they perform there will likely determine their ultimate playoff positioning.

Because their final two are against the New York Giants and Texans, so they should come into the postseason with some heat and on at least a two-game win streak.

Final record prediction: 12-6

Follow Adam Greene on Twitter @TheFirstMan.

Connect with us our socials on Twitter and Instagram for the latest sports news, viral moments, betting odds and the occasional memes.

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