When to Watch
There's a good chance that Andrew Luck plays most of the first half on Sunday. Frankly, I think he should play quite a bit more. You won't want to miss any time he's on the field, so that means a full half at least in Weeks 1 and 2.
Week 3 against the Redskins will be the epic showdown between Luck and Robert Griffin III. Considering it's the preseason, the hype will be nearly intolerable.
By Week 4 against Cincinnati, I doubt the Colts let Luck take more than a few drives. Typically by halftime the lineup consists largely of players who are about to be unemployed. Don't feel like a bad fan if you snap off the television.
How many preseason games will the Colts win?
Who To Watch
Setting aside Luck, who you won't be able to take your eyes off of, pay close attention to who is lining up alongside Jerraud Powers each game. Early on it looks like Justin King will get significant snaps. He was a disaster in Saint Louis last year, so that doesn't bode well for the Colts.
Keep a close on tight end Dwayne Allen as well. Note all the different ways the Colts are using him in the offense. I don't expect Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie to play a ton of snaps this preseason, so look for Allen to get some extra targets.
The Colts will also be auditioning a third receiver. Donnie Avery, LaVon Brazill and T.Y. Hilton would all love to win the job, and frankly it looks like a wide open competition at this point.
What to Watch
When the Colts are on defense, note how much Dwight Freeney plays on early downs and what the Colts ask Robert Mathis to do when he's on the field with Freeney. I still don't understand how both players can be on the field and rushing the passer without an over-reliance on the blitz.
Pay attention to the Indy run game. They haven't featured it at all in camp, so it will be interesting to see if they dole out more carries in the preseason.
Hand in hand with that is the offensive line. Winston Justice and Anthony Castonzo look to be locked in at tackle, but the guard spots are still in flux. Jeff Linkenbach and Mike McGlynn are penciled in as starters for now, but if they struggle there could be a change.
Just for Fun
The first and fourth preseason games are truly horrible matchups, but the two road games give fans the chance to watch Ben Roethilsberger and Griffin.
I imagine Colts fans will likely root against Griffin for most of his career, but this preseason matchup reminds me of when Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf met in their first preseason. Leaf played better and the Chargers won, but Manning got regular season revenge.
Fans that suffer through the two home games can try to play the fun game of starting at the top of Lucas Oil Stadium and patiently moving to seats close to the field. By the fourth quarter, they ought to be able to sit near the first row.
What It Means
Repeat after me: preseason results mean nothing.
I mean less than nothing.
I mean the opposite of something.
In fact, winning in the preseason actually has a slight negative correlation with winning in the regular season.
If the Colts win games in the preseason, they'll talk about how important it is for a young team. They might even sell a few tickets on that basis. Don't buy any of it.
Whether they win or lose is utterly irrelevant. There is no evidence of any benefit of any kind to winning preseason games.
If the Colts go 0-4, it reveals nothing about the team. If they go 4-0, it reveals nothing about the team.
Coaches want three things out of the preseason and nothing else matters:
- Good health
- Good play that's crisp and free of mental mistakes
- To evaluate players
Win or lose, preseason is time to enjoy the return of football without the weekly stress of the game's effect on the standings.
Often bad teams try and win preseason games. It's a smoke screen. Look for good play, not good outcomes.