NFL Team Previews: Indianapolis Colts

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NFL Team Previews: Indianapolis Colts
(Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

Pigskin Heaven's Sascha Bartels is breaking down every single team in the NFL prior to the season. Here is his analysis and forecast for the Indianapolis Colts. Click on a team to read its preview.

AFC East: BUF | MIA | NE | NYJ

AFC North: BAL | CIN | CLE | PIT

AFC South: IND | HOU | JAX | TEN

AFC West: DEN | KAN | OAK | SDG

NFC East: DAL | NYG | PHI | WAS

NFC North: CHI | DET | GBA | MIN

NFC South: ATL | CAR | NOL | TBA

NFC West: ARI | STL | SFO | SEA

 

What’s New?

For the most part, the only news out of Indianapolis was in the coaching ranks.

Tony Dungy has retired and left the team in the hands of Jim Caldwell. Then came the weird story that was Tom Moore and Howard Mudd, first retiring, then being brought back as “advisers”.

Now, here's a newsflash, the Colts had a quiet free agency period. Can you believe it?

Other than re-signing most of their own, most notably Jeff Saturday after a brief flirtation with Pittsburgh, the big new acquisition in Indianapolis was, uhm, Adam Seward?

The Colts really made the draft work for them though, finding potential talent at nearly every turn. Donald Brown will lighten Joseph Addai's load, hopefully making him more effective.

Fili Moala was found in the second round. Austin Collie and Terrance Taylor in the fourth, and later Curtis Painter in the sixth, and the Colts seem to have had one of the best drafts in the league.

 

Three Burning Questions

Will the Colts weather the change in coaching?

Tony Dungy did in Indianapolis what he couldn't do in Tampa, he took a good team with the potential to be great, and made them great, and eventually, champions.

Caldwell has been there through all of it, coming in with Dungy in 2002. Mudd and Moore have been there even longer. All of Indy's top tier coaches have been in town for more than five years, with Larry Coyer the notable exception.

With Mudd and Moore back in action, the “coordinator” Clyde Christensen will only benefit. The Colts will be able to weather this change quite easily.

 

Is the offensive line good enough to keep Peyton upright?

The Colts were very high last year on tackle Tony Ugoh, this year though, they seem quite a bit less enthused about him, even threatening him with a demotion.

I'm sure the Colts are thrilled they were able to keep Saturday from leaving town. Ryan Lilja returns after missing 2008.

I still think Ugoh is good enough, and the best choice to stay a starter, but perhaps the Colts will switch him with Ryan Diem, and let Diem play the left side.


Will the Colts step up their run defense?

The Colts ranked 24th against the run last season, yet had the sixth best pass defense.

That point was highlighted in the playoff game, when the Colts held Rivers to a respectable 217 yards with no touchdowns and one interception, while Darren Sproles ran for 105 of the 167 total yards the Colts gave up on the ground.

I think the Colts did very well to draft Moala and Taylor, and both should play big parts in the rotation early on. Add to that the return of Ed Johnson and Keyunta Dawson, and the interior of the line looks much better.

Gary Brackett returns after missing the last five games last year, which will also help out in the run game.

The remaining question may be the health of Bob Sanders, who missed nearly all of last season, and hasn't played yet this year.

 

Fantasy Forecast

Top players: Peyton Manning is still the Colts' best choice. Along with Drew Brees and Tom Brady, Manning should be the only QB even considered in the first two rounds of any draft. With Marvin Harrison completely gone now, both Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark will continue being great plays.

Avoid: Don't avoid completely, but certainly avoid taking Addai or Donald Brown too early, but also don't forget to take either one of them later in the draft. They will get you points. Avoid the defense, only 30 sacks and 15 interceptions last year. They'll make a good substitute when your defense is on a bye, but don't rely on them weekly.

Sleeper: It's hard to pick a sleeper, because generally Colt players do not get ignored come draft day. Perhaps this is more of a story of who becomes the teams' third receiver? I say it will be Pierre Garcon, making him the sleeper for the team.

 

Prognosis

For the prognosis and final record, read the originally posted article here.

This is an original article by Pigskin Heaven Staffer, Sascha Bartels. You can read it, more of Sascha's articles, and more from the Pigskin Heaven staff here.

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