2012 Record: 11-5; 2nd Place
2013 Prediction: 8-8
Confidence in Pick: 40%
Losses: Dwight Freeney, Bruce Arians
Pickups: Chuck Pagano, Ahmad Bradshaw, Donald Thomas, Gosder Cherilus, Darrius Heyward-Bey, LaRon Landry
Reasons for Optimism:
Andrew Luck – Luck will be a special QB in this league – if not this year, soon. As a rookie, Luck took a 2-14 team – who lost their coach to cancer treatments – and lead them to 11 wins and the playoffs. That is impressive. With 4,374 yards and 23 TDs, Luck had pretty impressive stats as well. With another year of chemistry between Luck and his receivers, and the addition of Ahmad Bradshaw, I look for Luck to improve on his rookie numbers (not in wins, but in stats).
Return of Pagano – This team really rallied around Pagano and his battle with cancer and his presence all year should provide a boost.
Ahmad Bradshaw – If healthy (a big if), Bradshaw can add a running dimension to the this team, something they lacked in 2012. In 2012, the Colts were 22nd in rushing offense and their leading rusher (Vick Ballard), had just 814 yards and 2 TDs. Over the last 4 years, Bradshaw (in mostly a shared backfield), averaged 7.5 TDs, has had two seasons of 1,000+ yards, and has a career average of 4.6 ypc. With his injury history, he likely will not carry all of the load, but he can add a punch to this offense that was sorely missing in 2012.
Experience – This was a young and inexperienced team in 2012. They now have a season under their belts and a playoff game to build on.