With that info in our hands, it's time for a game-by-game look at the Colts' 2013 season. Much can change between now and kickoff weekend, but this is how things might play out for Andrew Luck and company if the season started today.
Last season, the Colts went 11-5 and were booted from the playoffs in the Wildcard round by the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. Will the "Chuckstrong" magic continue for another year, or will Luck suffer a sophomore slump?
The Storyline: Will the new-look Raiders gel quickly enough to stop the Colts passing attack?
I'm not sure there's another team in football that added as many starters as the Raiders in free agency. Note: that's not really a great thing to be proud of since it means the team was awfully talent-bereft to start with. The Raiders defense, on paper, is a lot better and could put up a fight, but moving parts don't always fit together as nicely as front offices might like.
The Score: Colts 31—Raiders 13
At home, Luck should be able to get the engines revved up relatively quickly and things should snowball over the Raiders. Darren McFadden could keep this score a lot close (almost singlehandedly), but when the game is put on Matt Flynn's shoulders, he'll crumble.
The Storyline: Offseason Champs face off for in-season honors.
Both the Colts and the Dolphins made a lot of noise this offseason, but the proof is going to be in the pudding when these two face off. Will the Colts defensive front be able to get though the Dolphins' offensive line (now without Jake Long)? Or, will the Dolphins find space out on the outside with Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline against a porous Colts secondary?
The Score: Colts 27—Dolphins 20
Ryan Tannehill has some work to do as a franchise passer, but the Dolphins are putting more weapons around him that he had last year. Look for this game to come down to the wire as both quarterback will make a few boneheaded mistakes to go with their fantastic play.
The Storyline: The Colts are good, but are they that good?
This is where the rubber meets the road for the Colts. Are they what they were last year—a plucky young team with enough juice to make it to the playoffs in an AFC that is in a downswing? Or, have they improved enough to take on the NFC's best? Colin Kaepernick is going to test the Colts' back seven and Frank Gore will test the front.
The Score: 49ers 28—Colts 27
This game has "instant classic" written all over it as the 49ers should come out guns ablazin' but the Colts have just enough offensive firepower to keep pace. While the Niners defense is certainly stout, there are some talent issues in the secondary that Luck will have to take advantage of. In the end, the Niners are able to score a final-drive touchdown in a game that will leave people wanting more.
The Storyline: Will the Colts win the games they're supposed to win?
Last year, the Colts went to Jacksonville and beat the Jaguars 27-10, but split the season series with them. For a playoff team with aspirations to climb the ladder and be even better in 2013, the Colts can't lose divisional games to lowly teams like the Jaguars. When push comes to shove, the Colts need to be the ones doing all the pushing and shoving.
The Score: Colts 27—Jaguars 23
The Jags should put up a fight at home, but the Colts can overcome by winning the battle up front in the third and fourth quarter. With (hopefully) a better pass rush than in 2012, the Colts could close out games a lot easier.
The Storyline: Sophomore sensations going head-to-head.
We know that the Colts can pass the ball, but will they be able to do so against the big, tough and physical Seahawks defense? More importantly, will the Colts defense be able to match up with Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and new addition Percy Harvin? Honestly, this could be a very good game, but odds are, it gets out of hand in the second half.
The Score: Seahawks 34—Colts 17
This prediction has less to do with the Colts than it does the Seahawks. There are too many pass-rushers to block and too many great cornerbacks to find favorable matchups on the perimeter. With the offense shut down (and giving up a few turnovers) the defense is going to crumble.
The Storyline: Pagano vs. Pagano...who ya got?!
It isn't quite the "Harbowl," but Colts/Chargers features one of the better coaching brother pairings in the league with Chargers DC John Pagano against his brother's Colts. There aren't going to be a lot of secrets in this one as the coaches are already probably talking up their respective offensive coordinators about their brother's tendencies.
In the end, it's going to come down to whether or not the Chargers can protect Philip Rivers.
The Score: Colts 30—Chargers 24
Look for a bit of a high scoring affair as both teams establish themselves early and find a rhythm. Rivers will have a field day connecting on numerous passes over 20-yards, but it won't be enough as the Colts find a way to pull out a win on the road.
The Storyline: Manning Vs. Luck: Will the Colts' sensation be upstaged by his predecessor?
Lots of Colts fans love Andrew Luck but are still in love with Peyton Manning. It's always tricky to predict what kind of welcome a cities former star will receive, but heavy odds are on Manning getting a huge standing ovation as he trots out of the familiar tunnel. Will Luck get frazzled or will it motivate him? The Colts are going to need to be at their absolute best because the Broncos are one of the most talented teams in the league.
The Score: Broncos 35—Colts 24
Manning is too much for a Colts defense that has a lot of moving parts and a lot less talent than they'd like to admit. The Broncos also have too many talent receivers for the Colts to match up with. Look for Manning to pour it on early and never let up.
Record at the bye: 4-3
With Seattle, Denver and San Francisco behind them, the Colts have a much easier time down the stretch. 4-3 isn't a great record at the break, but with that murderers' row in the first half, it's as good as can be expected.
The Storyline: Who will command the AFC South in 2013 and beyond?
Playing at Houston is a different animal than hosting the Texans and it's important to remember that the Colts are still a young team. It doesn't take long for Matt Schaub to find a rhythm, and Arian Foster could have a field day against a Colts' defensive line with a lot of new pieces.
The Score: Texans 28—Colts 20
The AFC South could be sending two participants to the playoffs every year for the foreseeable future.
The Storyline: Does the Rams defense have enough firepower to keep pace with the Colts?
As much as the focus has been on the offseason improvements that Seattle and San Francisco have made, the Rams have quietly signed Jake Long and Jared Cook. Perhaps more importantly, they have a couple of first round picks to play with. The Rams took some steps forward under Jeff Fisher last year and will need to do so again if they hope to beat the playoff-caliber Colts.
The Score: Colts 27—Rams 23
If this game's location were flipped, the outcome would likely be different. The Sam Bradford/Andrew Luck duel will probably be awfully entertaining as both teams may eschew the run altogether.
The Storyline: Will the Colts learn the killer instinct a playoff contender needs?
Last year, the Titans were able to take the Colts into overtime at home. Yes, the Colts ended up winning that game, but looking back, it's a little embarrassing to need overtime to beat a team like the Titans. This year, the Colts need to learn even better that winning teams put their feet on the proverbial throats of their opponents and don't let up. That means zero mistakes down the stretch and a competent running game to boot.
The Score: Colts 24—Titans 17
Another close score this year, but the Colts should find victory a little easier in 2013. Locker will be forced to throw in the fourth quarter and the Colts could run up the sack total awfully quickly once the Titans are one-dimensional.
The Storyline: Does Bruce Arians have a trap set for his former team in the desert?
With Palmer under center and (presumably) some semblance of offensive line help in the draft, the Cardinals could quickly become a force to be reckoned with under Bruce Arians. More likely, though, is that the Colts come in and take care of business. They're a step further ahead in the rebuilding game with a lot better pieces.
The Score: Colts 27—Cardinals 13
Palmer might have a couple of great wideouts to throw to—certainly better than what he had in Oakland—but the Colts will be methodical and steady on offense and limit the chances he's going to get down the field.
The Storyline: Will this rivalry be reborn? Or, can the Colts put it to rest once and for all?
The Titans are trying to fix the interior of their offensive line this offseason, but the Colts have already added three starters to their defensive front seven and look to add even more in the draft. If the Colts can be better against the run than they were in 2013, this game could get out of hand in a hurry.
The Score: Colts 27—Titans 13
Expect the Titans to run the ball, then run it again, then run it some more. When the chips are down, however, Luck and this Colts' passing attack should be able to work over the top of the Titans defense. As much as Tennessee will want to keep the tempo down and the score close, look for the Colts to pull away at home in the second half.
The Storyline: Race to the top of the AFC
The Bengals and the Colts are almost polar opposites, yet two sides of the same coin. Luck is the superstar first-overall pick, while Andy Dalton is the "safe" and "dependable" quarterback who is tasked with not messing up as much as he's asked to put the team on his back. Both coaches are defensively minded, but the Colts' defense is a work in progress while the Bengals have one of the more fearsome units in the conference. This is strength on strength and should be a phenomenal game.
The Score: Bengals 24—Colts 9
Every team lays a stinker now and again, and this is the one game I'm predicting to go extremely poorly for the Seahawks. Geno Atkins will live in the pocket and Luck won't be able to bring the ball up in rhythm let alone get the passing game going. On offense, the Bengals will just pound pound pound until the Colts wither.
The Storyline: A rivalry that should only get better in the years to come.
The Colts played the Texans twice in December last year and split those games with a much better overall team. Both teams have had impressive offseasons thus far and match each other well. Luck will need better protection from J.J. Watt if he's going to get anything done through the air.
The Score: Colts 24—Texans 17
The Colts are a great team at home and should be able to stymie Matt Schaub with a defense that looks to have more teeth on the front seven than it did in 2012. This divisional picture isn't going to get any clearer in 2013 as these teams find ways to beat each other at home.
The Storyline: Will Alex Smith's dink and dunk attack sink the Colts?
The Chiefs think Smith is going to have a huge impact on their team, and it makes a lot of sense. Sure, he's not anything near the first overall pick he was supposed to be. He doesn't need to be for the Chiefs, though. This is a talented Kansas City team with a tough defense. With better coaching (check) and average quarterback play (double check) this could be a dangerous squad.
The Colts will need to be very careful.
The Score: Colts 17—Chiefs 16
This one has the makings of a defensive stalemate. Smith could very well complete 70 percent of his passes, but the Colts defense will hold him in the redzone. Meanwhile, the Chiefs stalwart defense will give Luck and company fits, making for a game that should be a lot more fun to watch than anything the Chiefs did in 2012.
The Storyline: Can the Colts finish off the year on a high note with the playoffs likely ahead of them?
At home, Luck and Reggie Wayne have an almost-uncanny chemistry for a tandem that hasn't been together very long. Wayne, Dwayne Allen, Darius Heyward-Bey and the rest should have a field day against a Jaguars' secondary that is still looking for starting-caliber pieces.
The Score: Colts 34—Jaguars 13
The Jaguars just don't have enough bodies to match up with the Colts' firepower on offense. Luck will get into a rhythm early with the home crowd behind him and have a few extra possessions thanks to turnovers by the Jaguars offense.
Final Record: 11-5
It may not seem like 11-5 is a step forward from 2012, but with the difficult early-season schedule it would be an easy excuse to crumble. With a second playoff appearance in his young career, Luck is well on his way to some high accolades in his Colts' career. Whether or not the Colts can go deep in the playoffs will speak to his maturity.
Michael Schottey is the NFL national lead writer for Bleacher Report and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Find more of his stuff at The Go Route.