Indianapolis Colts' Game-by-Game Predictions for Second Half of the Season
After an early bye week, the Colts actually have nine games remaining and seven in the books. Nevertheless, it's time to re-examine what lies ahead for this young contender.
The returns of Donald Brown and Robert Mathis could play a huge factor in where Indy ends up.
And with a quarterback who consistently pumps up the jam in the fourth quarter, no game is out of reach.
Here is Indy's remaining schedule.
Week 9: Miami Dolphins at Indianapolis Colts
Next week, Miami strolls into Indy with plenty of reason to be confident. Despite losing quarterback Ryan Tannehill to a quad injury, Miami had absolutely no trouble tearing through a defense that held Indianapolis to a paltry nine points.
The Dolphins will rely heavily on running backs Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas, who totaled 31 touches against New York.
Considering Indy's 27th-ranked rush defense, that's bad news.
Luck impresses, throwing for three touchdowns and only one interception. Unfortunately, the defense can't slow down the Fins.
Final Score: Miami 31, Indianapolis 21
Week 10: Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars
In Week 3, the Jacksonville Jaguars eked out their only win of the season; the Colts were the victims.
Victims of their own terrible secondary.
With under a minute remaining in the game, Indy allowed Cecil Shorts his first catch of the afternoon: an 80-yard game-winner.
This came at the tail end of a 28-carry, 177-yard performance by reigning rushing champion Maurice Jones-Drew.
Next time around, MJD will likely be sidelined. While Rashad Jennings is a serviceable backup, it's hard to see him going for 177 yards.
The Jags will struggle offensively in this game, despite the lackluster Colts defense.
Indianapolis does what they've done all season: throw the ball all over the yard. The Jags' 32nd-ranked passing attack can't keep pace and the Colts take back the victory stolen in Week 3.
Final Score: Indianapolis 27, Jacksonville 14
Week 11: Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots
There's no way to slice this matchup with the New England Patriots that looks good for Indianapolis.
The Pats are rolling, and the Colts are a weaker foe. Tom Brady is finally hitting his stride. Rob Gronkowski is getting involved all over again. Wes Welker is available if Brandon Lloyd doesn't get it done or Aaron Hernandez is hurt.
Oh, and they have 15 running backs capable of carrying the load in a given week.
Indy is not coming out of New England smiling.
Brady puts his "this is my job" face on and throws five touchdowns. The Colts can do nothing about it.
Final Score: Indianapolis 24, New England 42
Week 12: Buffalo Bills at Indianapolis Colts
Not unlike the Dolphins, the Buffalo Bills sport two running backs that will feature prominently in this contest.
Between Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, the Colts are going to have a tough time getting the Bills' offense off the field.
Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't good, but he's good enough to hit wide-open receivers off of play action. Jackson and Spiller figure to have enough success against the Colts' poor rush defense that play action will draw the defenders up effectively.
On the other hand, Indy's offense should have no problem scoring on the Bills, either. Their defense ranks dead last against the run and 22nd against the pass.
Less than stout.
The Buffalo running backs are lights out, while the Colts have a so-so day offensively. They don't keep pace with the Bills on this day.
Final Score: Buffalo 27, Indianapolis 20
Week 13: Indianapolis Colts at Detroit Lions
Matthew Stafford figured it out this week. It was only a matter of time.
Calvin Johnson is Madden-cursed, and Stafford is as inconsistent as any quarterback in the league right now. Their defense hasn't been good enough to overcome the up-and-down performances of the offense.
The Colts have just enough juice to overcome Megatron in this one. Luck is quiet, but Donald Brown has a nice performance. Stafford throws a couple picks, and Indy capitalizes.
Final Score: Indianapolis 16, Detroit 14
Week 14: Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts
Even though they couldn't contain Chris Johnson in Week 8 (99 rushing yards on 21 carries), Indianapolis was able to pull out an overtime victory over the Titans.
The Titans, who sit at 3-5, are watching their season quickly dissipate in missed opportunity.
Their outlook for the future is not much better. Jake Locker has a mystery injury timetable, Chris Johnson continues to be hit-or-miss and they have little left to play for but pride.
If they can't put together a string of wins, there's a good chance we see some internal bleeding in the Titans organization.
Jake Locker actually does play, but it makes little difference. He's rusty and the running game does him no favors in this one. The Colts roll.
Final Score: Tennessee 13, Indianapolis 28
Week 15: Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
The Houston Texans have proved to be the strongest team in the AFC. They've probably locked up the AFC South by Week 15, but they will still be striving for the No. 1 seed in the conference.
Arian Foster is the most consistently dominant running back in the NFL right now, and the Texans are doing everything they can to take advantage of his abilities. Indy won't likely be able to slow him down without putting eight defenders in the box.
And Matt Schaub will be able to find Andre Johnson over and over if they do. It's not going to be close.
Not to mention the Texans' defense.
Houston blows Indy's doors off in the first half. Little separates them from the top seed in the AFC now.
Final Score: Indianapolis 10, Houston 35
Week 16: Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs are the worst team in the league.
As long as Matt Cassel is leading that offense, there is no hope. There is no light at the end of the tunnel.
And unfortunately for them, there's no Andrew Luck-esque prospect this year in college football.
I can't see a situation in which the Colts lose this game, barring injury to Luck. They are alive, so they can defend the Chiefs. They breathe, so they can score on the Chiefs.
Nothing to fear.
The Chiefs are counting the days until next season. It can't come soon enough. Luck is really putting it together toward the end of the season, raising expectations for next season. Indianapolis downs a lifeless Chiefs team at Arrowhead.
Final Score: Indianapolis 23, Kansas City 9
Week 17: Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts
Having already locked up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, the Texans play their starters for only a couple series.
The Colts are sitting at 8-7 and fighting for the last playoff spot in a weak AFC. Given the state of the Texans' season, they aren't overly concerned with taking this game.
Indy's run game struggles, but Luck is able to pick up yards in bunches against Houston's reserve defenders. The Texans are still able to move the ball somewhat effectively, but score no touchdowns.
Final Score: Houston 12, Indianapolis 23