The 2012 Indianapolis Colts will look much different than they have in the past. Normally, this slideshow predicting the games would put the Colts in discussion for home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs.
The Colts had the most dominate run in regular season history from 2002-2010. Then came the horrid 2011 season.
Franchise player Peyton Manning was out for the season due to a neck injury which aided in one of the worst seasons the Colts have ever had. That led to owner Jim Irsay wanting to clean house—and clean house he did.
Irsay fired GM Bill Polian, most of the coaching staff and let go of the face of the Indianapolis Colts Peyton Manning.
The Colts also will be without Jeff Saturday, Dallas Clark, Joseph Addai, Pierre Garcon, Gary Brackett and Melvin Bullitt among others.
This is truly a new era for Colts football as they’re in total rebuild mode.
I expect Indy to draft Andrew Luck with the No. 1 pick, and honestly, don’t see the Colts being as bad as people think. Don’t get me wrong, they won’t be a playoff threat, but they will definitely win more games than last season.
They’ve already added a slew of offensive and defensive linemen. The defense will now be a base 3-4, and many changes to schemes have changed.
I think the Colts are a few years out still, but this is my game-by-game prediction for how the season will fare.
The first game, in what could be the Andrew Luck era, won't be too far from Indianapolis as the Colts travel to Chicago.
The Colts have had success in Chicago, but I think that success ends this year. Chicago is a lot better this year than the previous teams the Colts have played in Soldier Field, and Chicago will have a lot to prove after missing the playoffs last season.
I think the running attack of Forte and Bush will be too much for Indianapolis to handle. That will lead to easy completions for Jay Cutler in the passing game, and once again, the Colts are left guessing.
On the offensive side of the ball, I think Chicago’s defense will be too tough for an inexperienced offense.
I think Julius Peppers will welcome Andrew Luck to the NFL a few times, and the Colts won’t have an answer.
I like Chicago in this game.
Prediction: Loss (0-1)
The Vikings may be the Colts’ equal. They’re really young and drafting for the future right now. This is a perfect team to play in a home opener.
I think Adrian Peterson, if healthy, will have a pretty big day against the new Colts defense. I do think Indianapolis will do enough though to not let him have too big of a day
If the Vikings had a better quarterback, I’d give Minnesota the win, but I think Indianapolis will stack the box and force Christian Ponder to beat them. I honestly don’t think Ponder can do that in Lucas Oil Stadium, and the Colts will pull this game out in ugly fashion like they did in Minneapolis a few years ago.
I think Andrew Luck will do enough to keep the Colts ahead of Minnesota for most of this game, and Indianapolis will prevail and give Luck his first win as a Colt.
Prediction: Win (1-1)
The Colts looked horrid in last year’s drubbing to the Jaguars at home. They just weren’t a very inspired football team as they were still winless at the time.
I think Indianapolis will hold ground at home in Lucas Oil and force Jacksonville into some tough situations.
I don’t think Blaine Gabbert will be able to hold off the new-look Colts defense, and I do think Indy can slow Maurice Jones-Drew at home with the same game plan as the previous week.
Minnesota and Jacksonville are basically the same. The quarterback is holding them back as they have elite running backs and a decent defense.
I think the Colts defense will do enough to stop Jones-Drew, and the offense can take care of business and do just enough to get by.
Prediction: Win (2-1)
The Colts will host their third straight home game after a week off for the bye. Unfortunately the team waiting for them are the Packers.
I think Green Bay will have too much on offense for the Colts to stop as I expect a huge day out of Aaron Rodgers.
On the other side of the ball, Green Bay’s defense struggled last year, but I don’t seem them being as bad this year. The Colts may be able to move the ball a bit, but I don’t seem them outscoring Green Bay in this one.
I think Green Bay may jump up on Indianapolis and the Colts may make a bit of a run, but Aaron Rodgers will lead Green Bay to close this one out in the second half.
Prediction: Loss (2-2)
This Jets welcomed the Colts into the new era of football after they knocked off Indianapolis in the 2010 playoffs in the Wild Card Round at Lucas Oil Stadium. That was the last time Peyton Manning played a game in a Colts uniform.
This season, the Jets host the new-look Colts in Met Life Stadium.
The Jets are trying to finally reach a Super Bowl after having such high hopes last season. They went to the previous two AFC Championship Games but didn’t live up to expectations last season.
This season, they added Tim Tebow and want to turn around the distractions from last season.
I think New York will be way too much for Indianapolis to handle with their lock-down defense and will control the offensive side of the ball with a solid running game.
I think the solid running game will set up deep play-action passes for quarterback Mark Sanchez, and the game will be over by the third quarter.
I like New York in this one as the Colts won’t be kept guessing all day.
Prediction: Loss (2-3)
The Colts and Browns usually a play tight contest despite the down years for Cleveland in the last decade.
The Colts lost to Cleveland in Lucas Oil Stadium last year in Week 2 as Indianapolis just didn’t show up ready to play.
Cleveland has a high draft pick this year and will get immediate help on whomever they draft.
Normally, I would never pick Cleveland to win a matchup against the Colts, but I just don’t think the Colts will have enough to beat them.
I think the new system won’t be effective enough with the personnel, and the Colts will lose in a tight one.
I’m not 100 percent sold on Colt McCoy, but I don’t think the Colts will get a good enough pass rush to slow him. If they do get to McCoy, I think the screen pass will be very effective and be just enough to lead Cleveland to the win in Indy.
The losing trend continues this week for the third straight game as Indy drops their first game for the season in Lucas Oil.
Prediction: Loss (2-4)
This game will be a hard one for the Colts to win. The Titans are an average football team, but they’re good at LP Field in Nashville.
Normally, the Colts are welcomed in Tennessee when they played there. That was all because of Peyton Manning is loved in the Volunteer State. Now, without Manning, the Colts will be hated like the other two AFC South teams at LP Field.
I think this Colts team is too inexperienced to pull out this road divisional game, and the new 3-4 scheme won’t have enough beef to stop Chris Johnson's rushing attack.
Andrew Luck will have to keep the Colts in the game, but they won't have enough fire power on the road in this game.
Another reason is it's hard to break a losing trend with a young team. After losing three straight games coming into this one, I don't think the Colts can pull this out on the road.
Prediction: Loss (2-5)
The Colts last played Miami down in Sun Life Stadium on Monday Night Football a few years ago. They pulled out the win and looked dominate early.
I think Indianapolis can do the same thing to the Dolphins this year.
Miami is in dismay as no free agents wanted to go there. They traded their star receiver and really don’t have any playmakers outside of Reggie Bush.
I believe Miami is the perfect team to end a losing trend against especially at home. I think the Colts will key in on Bush and make it difficult for the Dolphins to beat them.
I do believe this game will be close, but the Colts will be too much at home in the second half in this game.
I like Indianapolis in this one.
Prediction: Win (3-5)
The Colts were swept by the Jags last year and lost down in Jacksonville on New Year's Day to clinch the No. 1 pick in this year's draft.
I don’t think the Colts will get swept by Jacksonville this season. The Jags just aren’t a very good football team, and I’m not sold on Blaine Gabbert as an NFL quarterback.
I think this game will be close, but I do think rookie Andrew Luck will be too much for Jacksonville to handle.
The Jaguars just don’t have enough fire power to win games as I like the Colts in this one as the Colts will pull the sweep on Jacksonville this season.
Prediction: Win (4-5)
It was weird seeing this game last season being played in the early slot on CBS. Normally, this game is played in prime time and gets huge ratings. Now, the lackluster of the once great rivalry is pretty much gone.
Tom Brady is nearing the end of his career, and the Colts don’t have Peyton Manning or many of the greats on their roster who played in many NFL classics.
I think the Patriots will be way too much and put the Colts away early again like they did last year. At one point, New England led 38-3 before the Colts made some great plays to get in the game in the fourth quarter.
I don’t think the Patriots will let that happen two years in a row. I think Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez will once again be too much, and New England will win in a rout.
Prediction: Loss (4-6)
The Buffalo Bills had a surprise start to last season as many predicted they could be a sleeper for a playoff spot.
With a solid team and an improving defense, I think they can come into Lucas Oil Stadium and steal a victory.
The Colts are too inexperienced with a new system and rookie quarterback to hang around and pull this game out in the end.
The Bills added Colts nemesis Mario Williams from the Texans during the offseason, and I think he can be a difference maker in this contest.
I see Ryan Fitzpatrick leading this Bills offense to grind out a win in the fourth. It will be close, but I think Buffalo will prevail late and force the Colts to their second straight defeat in consecutive weeks to an AFC East team.
Prediction: Loss (4-7)
The Detroit Lions finally got over the hump and made it to the playoffs last season. I think this team is getting better and better and will be a tough out this season.
I don’t think the Colts' corners are good enough right now to beat Calvin Johnson. I think Matthew Stafford and Johnson will have huge days at home in this one.
The Colts offense will once again be forced into a shootout, and I don’t think they can pull it out with a rookie quarterback right now. The offense is too inexperienced to prevail in a shootout.
That’s dangerous territory to be doing that with a tough Lions defense anyway.
I think Detroit wins this by three-plus possessions.
Prediction: Loss (4-8)
Once again, the Colts get a winnable game coming off a three-game losing streak.
I think Indianapolis will actually win this divisional matchup. They beat Tennessee last year at home for their first win of the season. I think they can do the same in Lucas Oil Stadium this year.
Tennessee struggles a bit on the road, and there’s nothing like the home crowd behind you at Lucas Oil for the Colts. The defense plays so much better.
I believe this defense can slow the Titans' running attack again and grind this one out as long as the offense doesn’t turn the ball over.
The Titans, I don’t feel, will force the Colts into too much trouble, and I see the Colts pulling out this AFC South matchup.
Prediction: Win (5-8)
The Colts have only lost three games ever to the Houston Texans. The problem is two of the three have come in consecutive home-openers at Reliant Stadium the last two years..
I think the Texans will contend for the Super Bowl with such a great offense and defense and need this game for playoff positioning at this point of the season.
Reliant Stadium was hard enough for Peyton Manning to play in throughout his career. I think it will be extremely difficult for rookie Andrew Luck and a new system on both sides of the ball for the Colts to pull out a win in this game.
I don’t think this game will be close as I see Houston dominating this matchup. They’re just too tough in every aspect of this game.
Prediction: Loss (5-9)
The Colts played Kansas City in Lucas Oil Stadium last year and fell to the Chiefs after putting together a great first half. This year, the game is at Kansas City.
Arrowhead Stadium is a tough place to play for anyone, let alone a young team with a rookie quarterback and new system.
I think Kansas City will be too explosive if everyone is healthy in this game.
Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe should have big days for the Chiefs, and their defense should be good enough to get by a young/inexperienced Colts offense.
Factor in the home crowd, and I think the Colts will have a tough time winning in Arrowhead.
I like Kansas City in this AFC game.
Prediction: Loss (5-10)
I originally had this game chalked up as a loss for Indianapolis before the schedule was released. I didn't think there was any way Indianapolis could beat Houston this season.
Now, I've changed my mind.
Indianapolis has never been swept by Houston as the Texans have never won a game in Indianapolis. At this point of the season, being the last game, I expect the Texans to have the division already clinched and their playoff berth solidified.
I think Houston will rest their starters in Lucas Oil, and the Colts will be able to pull this game out.
If Houston ends up playing their starters the entire game, then there's no way Indy wins, but I have to believe the Texans will rest everyone here.
Prediction: Win (6-10)