The Indianapolis Colts were not expecting to have as successful of a season as they are right now.
After finishing with a 2-14 record last season and the number one overall draft pick, the Colts were hoping for even a minor improvement. Now, the Colts are sitting at 7-4 and have the top wild card spot for the playoffs at this point.
Andrew Luck has become a real leader to this team, and everyone is playing with more intensity than we saw all of last year.
The Colts are playing so well thanks to a few big surprises. Here is a look at five of those surprises.
When the Colts drafted T.Y. Hilton in the third-round of last year's draft, they were expecting a player that would begin developing and play once Reggie Wayne left.
Hilton has become so much more already this year.
Hilton was selected 92nd overall out of Florida International University. His small stature of 5' 9" made him less appealing than a lot of the taller receivers.
Hilton's height has not been a problem this season. On the year, he has 33 receptions for 488 yards and five touchdowns. He also returned a punt for a 75 yard touchdown last week against the Buffalo Bills.
Hilton has become a great option for Andrew Luck. With most of the attention by the defenses going to Reggie Wayne and Donnie Avery, Luck has found Hilton open more than anticipated.
With Hilton's performance, he has certainly been a great surprise for the Colts.
Jerrell Freeman has spent the last few years in Canadian Football League, but he has found his new home in Indianapolis.
Freeman went undrafted after college in the 2008 draft, but he was signed by the Titans. The Titans cut him before the beginning of the season, so Freeman made his moved to the CFL in 2009. After playing there for three years, the Colts signed him this January.
Freeman has been quite the surprise for Indianapolis since the start of the season. In the first quarter of their season opener against the Chicago Bears, Freeman intercepted a pass from Jay Cutler and ran it in for a touchdown.
Freeman has been a tackling machine for the Colts this season with 101 total tackles so far, which is good for fifth in the NFL. He has also had two sacks and a forced fumble on the season.
The Colts have found a solid player on a team that has had a very inconsistent defense for the past decade. With enough players like Freeman, the Colts could possibly get a consistent defense.
After a season where the Colts played players like Kerry Collins and, somehow, Curtis Painter, the city of Indianapolis was begging for a quarterback that could at least not throw the ball at a receiver's feet.
The Colts drafted Andrew Luck with the number one pick in the draft with the hopes that he could replace one of the greatest quarterbacks ever in Peyton Manning.
While this sounded like an insane amount of pressure, Luck has risen to the occasion, and is playing better than most rookies do in their first season.
Luck has already tied a record for most wins in a season by a quarterback selected first overall with seven wins this year. This means Luck is on pace to be the first ever quarterback selected to first to not only have a winning season, but make the playoffs.
When Manning was a rookie, his team only won three games. Luck is already at seven.
Luck is proving to be a leader for this team, leading several game winning drives. These drives are beginning to remind Colts fans of Manning's ability to drive down the field in two minute drills.
With the success of the Colts, people are going to constantly compare Luck to Manning. At this point in the season, Luck has earned those comparisons.
If you told anyone at the beginning of the year that the Indianapolis Colts were going to be a playoff-caliber team, they probably would have laughed in your face.
The Colts have turned the team completely around from last year, and they are beginning to prepare for what was previously considered an improbable playoff chase.
Other than having to play the Houston Texans twice, the remainder of the schedule isn't that bad for the Colts. Their other remaining games are against the Lions, Titans, and Chiefs. It seems that the Colts will likely finish the year at 9-7 or 10-6. With how bad the AFC has been this year, this should easily give the Colts a spot in the playoffs.
The Colts have become a promising team this year, and they look to make a run in the playoffs.
There is nothing more inspiring in the NFL this year than the support of head coach Chuck Pagano and his battle with leukemia. An entire community has come together to help support their coach, and the team has come together to play for him.
The entire city of Indianapolis is covered with signs that show the support of CHUCKSTRONG. The Colts organization has received thousands of donations for CHUCKSTRONG and research for leukemia.
Most of the Colts team recently shaved their heads to support their coach, including players like Andrew Luck, Pat McAfee, and Adam Vinatieri. The players have come together and fought for their coach.
What has been the most inspiring moment of the season was Megan, the Colts cheerleader, shaving her head at the game against the Bills. The Colts had made a challenge that if they raised $10,000, Megan agreed that she would shave her head.
There was a lot of support for her, and the cheers were loud as they shaved her head during the game on Sunday.
The amount of support for CHUCKSTRONG is more important than any football game, and is by far the most pleasant surprise of this season.