Indianapolis Colts: Game-by-Game Preview Without Peyton Manning
Let's be realistic, Peyton Manning is not coming back this year or maybe ever.
After the devastating news surrounding the Colts' legend has left his future in a cloud of obscurity, the Colts turn to Kerry Collins in the hopes of salvaging the season.
It is widely known and accepted that Collins cannot fill Manning's shoes, but he may be able to do enough to stop the bleeding.
Here is a look, game by game, at the 2011 Indianapolis Colts and how they will fare without their future Hall of Fame quarterback.
Game 1: Colts vs. Texans
The first test of the season pits the Colts against the Texans in a division matchup in week one.
While the news of Manning is still fresh, the other factor in this game, Arian Foster, may not be in the lineup either.
Either way, the Texans have a capable back in Derrick Ward and I expect to see him in this game as a starter or stealing carries from Foster for precautionary reasons.
The Colts will have a difficult time stopping the run as this will be a theme all season long.
The Colts offense should be able to put some points up, but the growing pains show here as Collins continues to get on the same page as his receivers.
Colts 17, Texans 27
Game 2: Colts vs. Browns
The AFC's other Peyton offers another challenging matchup for the Colts defense as the Cleveland Browns host Kerry Collins and company.
For the second week in a row, the Colts will have to muster the strength to combat an effective rushing unit and find a way to keep it in check.
The Colts offense should be able to beat the Cleveland secondary and the concerns with the Brown's linebacking corps will cost them this game.
Look for the Colts to utilize the tight ends and have an effective day from Joseph Addai.
Colts 23, Browns 14
Game 3: Colts vs. Steelers
By week three, the Colts defense will be tired of matching up against its third legitimate running attack, as the Steelers boast a robust ground game.
The Colts issues on offense will be exploited in this game as Kerry Collins will be sacked, hurried and most likely picked off several times.
This game is going to be ugly and without Manning, they have no shot in Pittsburgh.
Colts 10, Steelers 31
Game 4: Colts vs. Buccaneers
The Colts find themselves in prime position for a rebound against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The run defense will be tested again but the threat of LeGarrette Blount shouldn't bring that much of an issue to the unit.
Expect defensive penetration and sacks against Josh Freeman, luring him into making bad decisions.
Colts 29, Buccaneers 18
Game 5: Colts vs. Chiefs
By now I think I've established the Colts run defense will have problems. Two words, Jamaal Charles.
That said, I don't think the Colts will struggle against the rest of the offensive unit should be fine matching the Chiefs on the scoreboard.
The defensive line will be able to get to Cassel and fluster him. Colts receivers Wayne and Collie will have fun against the average Chiefs secondary.
Colts 23, Chiefs 12
Game 6: Colts vs. Bengals
This game is going to be a coming out party for Joseph Addai as he will have a big game on the ground against a Bengals run defense that is almost as bad as Indy's.
The Bengals are a scrappy team but shouldn't find too much success against the Colts' weapons even if Collins has an average day.
Look for a dominant win in Cincinnati.
Colts 21, Bengals 9
Game 7: Colts vs. Saints
The key for the Colts is to contain Darren Sproles out of the backfield as he can catch passes and make big gains.
Overall, the Colts receivers should handle the secondary of the Saints, but the key to this game depends on how effective Indy can be at stopping Jonathan Vilma.
This game should be closer than people think, but I see the Saints pulling it out.
Colts 21, Saints 29
Game 8: Colts vs. Titans
It's always possible for the Colts to beat the Titans but this season they won't be able to. Chris Johnson will go off for 200 rushing yards. This game will be ugly.
Colts 13, Titans 26
Game 9: Colts vs. Falcons
Everyone will expect Michael Turner to set the tone, but he will be contained by the Colts defense. The player that makes or breaks this game is Roddy White.
The Colts will have to double-team him all game and hope that rookie phenom, Julio Jones, doesn't make up the difference.
Colts 18, Falcons 27
Game 10: Colts vs. Jaguars
Jacksonville should be honored they can take the same field as the Colts in this game.
Maurice Jones-Drew will be exhausted by this point and battered from being ridden too much and too often all season. He will not be able to run through the Colts.
Reggie Wayne will not be disrupted by anyone in the Jacksonville secondary and should embarrass them frequently.
Colts 31, Jaguars 13
Game 11: Colts vs. Panthers
Indianapolis should handle this game rather easily as the rookie quarterback, Cam Newton, should be running more than throwing.
The front line of the Colts should penetrate the line of scrimmage easily, causing the Panthers to look to make something happen.
I see Austin Collie having a big day here.
Colts 28, Panthers 13
Game 12: Colts vs. Patriots
Unlike the drones in NFL land, I think the Patriots are extremely beatable this year.
I don't buy into the hype with Ochocinco and Wes Welker making a threatening combo and I don't think the Colts' cornerbacks will have any issues covering them.
The Patriots' secondary is rather young and they released one of their best players when they let Brandon Meriweather walk.
The Colts can match them and will pull out a tough win on the road.
Colts 19, Patriots 17
Game 13: Colts vs. Ravens
The Ravens will have the full blitz going against Collins and he will feel the pressure.
I doubt Addai will be able to make a dent in this game as Ray Lewis will make his day miserable. The Colts offense will sputter against this Ravens defense. Low scoring, but that's not really a surprise.
Colts 9, Ravens 16
Game 14: Colts vs. Titans
The Titans go for the sweep against the Colts as they roll out Chris Johnson and throw to Kenny Britt.
If Indy is going to have a chance against a team that can rush and whose defense knows the tendencies of Kerry Collins, they must manage the clock with long, time-consuming drives.
I don't see them winning here.
Colts 20, Titans 27
Game 15: Colts vs. Texans
Arian Foster will get his chance at the Colts, this time at 100 percent. The Colts have found a way to contain Andre Johnson and make Matt Schaub try to beat them other ways.
The Colts split with the Texans due to turnovers at the hand of Schaub.
Colts 28, Texans 20
Game 16: Colts vs. Jaguars
By this time Jacksonville should be led by their rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert as their season is over. Jack Del Rio will have been fired or will be at the conclusion of the season.
The Colts will be playing for pride at this point and will not lose to this team at any cost. After this game, the future will still be up in the air and the Colts will be looking to recoup from this season.
Colts 24 - Jaguars 10
Realistically, the signs are pointing to the sunset fading on Peyton Manning.
After enduring three surgeries to the same injury, it is medically prudent to consider his health over the thrill of playing a game.
With each surgery the chances of a significant recovery are reduced and the Colts may be looking at a future without him. Is Curtis Painter the answer? Will the Colts draft a Quarterback?
There will be much uncertainty in Indianapolis this season and into the next, something that hasn't happened in quite some time.
The Colts try their best but finish the season at 9-7.