Believe It or Not, Expect Big Things from the Indianapolis Colts in 2011

Michael BurkeContributor IIIAugust 15, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 08:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts looks to pass in the first quarter against the New York Jets during their 2011 AFC wild card playoff game at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 8, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

A regular season with 10 wins and six losses, along with a division title, would not be a failure for many teams in the NFL. However, after seven straight 12-win-or-better seasons, many considered 2010 a letdown for the Indianapolis Colts.

With that said, I don’t personally believe last season was a huge failure for the Colts.

Sure, I was disappointed. However, as much as I don’t like making excuses, injuries really took their toll on the 2010 team.

Sixteen different starters missed a combined total of 92 games for the Colts last year. These weren’t any shabby names, either; guys like Joseph Addai, Austin Collie, Dallas Clark, Gary Brackett and Bob Sanders (surprise, surprise) all missed significant time in 2010.

It’s no secret that injuries definitely affected the Colts a year ago and it will be nice to see the team revamped as we enter this season.

Possibly the most important player returning to the team will be Austin Collie. In just eight games last year, he racked up 650 receiving yards and caught eight touchdowns. As long as his concussion has no lingering effects, he and Reggie Wayne should continue to find success as probably the most underrated receiving duo in the league.

Let’s not forget the return of Dallas Clark, either. He is still one of the league’s premier tight ends and I cannot stress his importance to the Colts offense enough. Jacob Tamme was a nice replacement, but he’s no Dallas Clark.

Regardless, no matter how many weapons the Colts have, this offense still starts and ends with Peyton Manning.

I don’t buy into the neck injury being much to worry about. In my mind, Manning is the best quarterback in the NFL. You could put any other quarterback on this team and they would fall to pieces.

I’ve always said that you need either a great quarterback or a great defense to contend in this league, and the Colts have one of the best ever in Peyton Manning.

On the other side of the ball, the defense will have their usual struggles. However, I honestly do believe they’re improving. Either way, the Colts offense has always seemed to be able to overcome their lack of defense.

This Colts team are flying way under the radar, but I believe they are still one of the NFL’s elite clubs.

It would be very nice for Peyton Manning to be able to win his second Super Bowl in his own stadium, especially after the disappointment of the 2009 season’s Super Bowl loss to the Saints.

On February 5th, 2012, look for Manning to hoist his second Lombardi Trophy at Lucas Oil Stadium.