With nine of 11 offensive starters from 2007 returning, the Colts' explosive attack will eat up defenses like Popeye eats spinach.
Manning, Harrison, Wayne, Clark, Addai, and Rhodes are a group of men that will put teams like "The Greatest Show on Turf" to shame. Along with four of the five offensive linemen returning, Indy's offense will sparkle as they chow down on defenses with an energy that will be unmatched. As long as everyone stays healthy, a march to Tampa Bay is highly possible.
However, the run defense will be a huge factor in the 2008 campaign. The Colts will be playing against a number of running backs that, at one point or another, are Pro Bowlers and even future Hall of Famers: Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor (twice), Willie Parker, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Jamal Lewis.
The lack of size at linebacker (middle linebacker Gary Brackett is only 5'11") will pressure the attributes of speed, strength, and agility to excel. Though the Colts run defense did improve in 2007, adjustments need to be made. The point is that the linebackers just need to get better. The D-line is impressive, but the front four alone will not be able to stop the aforementioned players.
Indy's defensive backs look great! Marlin Jackson, Bob Sanders, Antoine Bethea, and Kelvin Hayden are all young, skilled players that will control the air attack. What these four have that not many other secondaries have is brilliancy. They are quick to respond and are lightning fast when moving into zone coverage.
Schedule Outlook and Predictions
The Colts have a tough schedule. The Colts have an EXTREMELY tough schedule. With 10 games against teams that had records above .500 in 2007, 16-0 just isn't possible.
But this year will be an emotional year for the Colts. Tony Dungy will be coaching against friends from his past for probably the last time. And there is a large chance that legend Marvin Harrison will retire after this season.
Now, to the schedule analysis.
Sept. 7, Chicago at Indianapolis: Home opener and first game at the Lucas Oil Stadium. Bears keep game close, but Colts start pulling away late.
Sept. 14, Indianapolis at Vikings: Colts play the run all night and force Minnesota to throw. Offense shines and game turns into long night for the Vikings.
Sept. 21, Jacksonville at Indianapolis: Jacksonville has a strong defense and explosive offense. Colts try same defensive game-plan as in Week Two, but the Jaguars' offense perseveres. Game is decided by last-second field goal by Adam Vinatieri.
Oct. 5, Indianapolis at Houston: Colts come off from their bye week rested and refreshed. They then proceed to seize control early in the game and never let go.
Oct. 12, Baltimore at Indianapolis: The Ravens' legendary defense come to Indianapolis and gives Colts fans a run for their money. In the end, the Colts grasp a lead and hold on in a very low-scoring game.
Oct. 19, Indianapolis at Green Bay: Tony Dungy has never won as a head coach in Lambeau Field. To finally pull one off here would be the ultimate gift from the players. Indy's defense shines, but the offense stutters at first. Colts pull this one off by extending a second-half lead and not letting go.
Oct. 27, Indianapolis at Tennessee: Sigh! The Patriots will be the first to tell you that nobody is perfect, and the Colts lose to the Titans by just a hair. Defense doesn't do anything spectacular, and the offense is sloppy. Titans command the whole game and win by double digits on Monday Night Football.
Nov. 2, New England at Indianapolis: The rivalry continues as the Colts fix mistakes from the week before. Addai, Rhodes, and Hart all play with passion and give a sell-out crowd a win.
Nov. 9, Indianapolis at Pittsburgh: Colts play without passion while Big Ben and Willie Parker eat up Indy's defense. Steelers score first and never give up the lead. Manning is pressured all day, and the Steelers' defense proves themselves.
Nov. 16, Houston at Indianapolis: Colts stay atop the AFC South with an easy win. The offense plays hard, and the defense practices fundamentals while Indy beats the determined Texans in a boring game.
Nov. 23, Indianapolis at San Diego: Last year, Manning threw six interceptions and the special teams let two returns go all the way. This year, the Colts hold LT and rattle Philip Rivers all night. Running game gets revenge for getting knocked out of the playoffs, and the Chargers leave the field disappointed.
Nov. 30, Indianapolis at Cleveland: The Browns are good. The dog pound sucks to be in when you are the opposing team. Jamal Lewis breezes all over the field, and the Browns hand the Colts their third loss of the year in a high-scoring battle.
Dec. 7, Cincinnati at Indianapolis: Two excellent quarterbacks face-off as the running game is a deciding factor. Addai and Rhodes both have big games while the Colts' defense does their job.
Dec. 14, Detroit at Indianapolis: Dungy versus apprentice Rod Marinelli. Manning and company play well, but the defense struggles. Colts pull off another boring game.
Dec. 18, Indianapolis at Jacksonville: The Jaguars blow the Colts out of the water with the running game. Indy never has a chance on Thursday night. Everyone watching turns off the TV and goes to bed towards the end of the third quarter.
Dec. 28, Tennessee at Indianapolis: The Colts wrap up season with a win against the Titans. Defense is factor, but ultimately it's an uneventful game as both teams have playoff berths at this time and rests starters.
Division record: 4-2
Overall record: 12-4