The Chuck Pagano led Colts are faced with much higher expectations in 2013 Photo by Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

What Will the Colts' Record Be in 2013?

32nd. Out of 32 teams in the NFL, the Colts were expected to finish 32nd last season. The team had the 2012 preseason power rankings printed on T-shirts that they looked at and wore at practice as motivation. They established a motto — #BTM, or Build the Monster — to let fans know that they would not be settling for a rebuilding year; they had a monster that they were ready to unleash upon the league. That “monster” was rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, who would break virtually every rookie passing record and lead the Colts to six game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime. The Colts shocked everyone and finished with a 11-5 record and made it to the playoffs, where they lost to the eventual Super Bowl Champions, the Baltimore Ravens. They did much of this without Head Coach Chuck Pagano, who missed 12 games while receiving treatment for leukemia. Pagano was diagnosed with cancer during the Colts’ bye week in Week 4, and his battle inspired the Colts to win many games they were not expected to.

The Colts are no longer underdogs. Expectations are heightened this year, but after a busy offseason that saw the Colts get more involved in free agency than they had in some time, they should be. Not only have the Colts added depth on both defense and on the offensive line (protecting Luck is the number one priority) with the additions of players like LaRon Landry and Gosder Cherilus, but the team also has a full year of experience together under their belts.

What will that translate to in 2013? This week each of the writers at Naptown’s Finest are taking a shot at breaking down the Colts’ schedule and predicting the outcome of each of their games. Here’s how I see the season going for the Colts:

Week 1: Colts vs. Raiders
The Colts open their season at home against the tumultuous Raiders, who named the athletic but inexperienced Terrelle Pryor as their starting quarterback after free agent acquisition Matt Flynn did not play well enough to earn the starting job. On paper, the Colts are far superior team on both offense and defense. This will be a rebuilding year for Oakland.
Projected Colts result: WIN

Week 2: Colts vs. Dolphins
Like the Colts, the Dolphins were very active in free agency. They most notably signed WR Mike Wallace to be Ryan Tannehill’s top target, and that should help the sophomore quarterback’s numbers go up this season. However, it will take some time for the Phins to get rolling and establish chemistry.
Projected Colts result: WIN

Week 3: Colts at 49ers
The Niners are favored to return to the Super Bowl this year, and with good reason. If stopping Colin Kaepernick isn’t difficult enough, making sure Aldon Smith doesn’t get to Andrew Luck will be. The Colts will put up a fight but get their first loss of the season on the road.
Projected Colts result: LOSS

Week 4: Colts at Jaguars
Maurice Jones-Drew will likely run right through the Colts’ defense like he always done, but this is a quarterback’s league,  and I would not trust Blaine Gabbert as the starting quarterback for my team.
Projected Colts result: WIN

Week 5: Colts vs. Seahawks
The Colts will get home field advantage, giving them an edge, but they will need to exploit every advantage given to them if they want to beat Seattle, who’s ranked at the top of the NFL’s Week 1 Power Rankings. Sophomore quarterback Russell Wilson, like Luck, should only improve this year. Marshawn Lynch will also pose many problems for the Colts defense on the ground, and the wide receivers will need to be at their best to get by Richard Sherman at cornerback. I’m afraid Lucas Oil may be invaded.
Projected Colts result: LOSS


Week 6: Colts at Chargers

No one has been more unpredictable at quarterback in recent years than the Chargers’ Philip Rivers, who has very few offensive weapons to work with this season. The Colts should thrive under the Monday night lights and relish their exclusive primetime TV slot.
Projected Colts result: WIN


Week 7: Colts vs. Broncos
This is the game that everyone in Indianapolis has been waiting for: Peyton Manning’s return to Lucas Oil. Sheriff Manning, with his deputy receivers Thomas, Decker, and Welker, will remind fans who it was that built the Colts’ house. Plus, Denver will be welcoming back pass rusher Von Miller from his six-game suspension.
Projected Colts result: LOSS

Week 8: BYE

Week 9: Colts at Texans
The Colts will get division-rival Houston on the road in their first meeting, and that will hurt the Colts. Matt Schaub, Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, and newly acquired safety Ed Reed will get the Horseshoe’s number the first time around. The Texans just have too many weapons and know the Colts too well for them to lose at home. Plus, the Colts will need to get back into a rhythm after their bye week.
Projected Colts result: LOSS

Week 10: Colts vs. Rams
This should be a very intriguing matchup, for it will be interesting to see how Sam Bradford performs this season with the very hyped Tavon Austin at wide receiver. The Rams should improve this season, but it probably won’t be enough to win on the road at Lucas Oil. Luck can and will outplay Bradford.
Projected Colts result: WIN

Unknown-2Week 11: Colts at Titans
The Colts have gotten Chris Johnson’s number in the past. Even if they can’t quite slow him down this time, the Titans’ passing game isn’t strong enough to overpower the Colts.
Projected Colts result: WIN

Unknown-3Week 12: Colts at Cardinals
The Colts will head to Arizona for a NFC West matchup with their former offensive coordinator and interim head coach Bruce Arians, who will surely have a few tricks up his sleeve. The Cardinals will have the advantage here, for they will know far more about the Colts than the Colts will about them. Cards’ star wideout Larry Fitzgerald will excel with a reliable quarterback in Carson Palmer, and the Honey Badger will take what he wants.
Projected Colts result: LOSS

Unknown-2Week 13: Colts vs. Titans
The Colts will complete their first division rival sweep of the season. Using what they learned from their first matchup two week’s prior, the Colts will dominate at home.
Projected Colts result: WIN

Cincinnati-Bengals-Logo-FontWeek 14: Colts at Bengals
This will be a tough one, and the cards will be stacked against the Colts on the road. But the Colts defense will do a solid job putting pressure on Andy Dalton in the pocket and slowing down AJ Green. Andrew Luck will turn on his late game heroics in a game that could determine whether the Colts can make the playoffs as a wild card.
Projected Colts result: WIN

570Week 15: Colts vs. Texans
Did you know that the Texans are 0-11 all time playing in Indianapolis? I believe in trends. The Colts will do all that they can to make a final push for the division title.
Projected Colts result: WIN

Unknown-4Week 16: Colts at Chiefs
By Week 16, I expect the revamped Chiefs to be rolling on all cylinders under Andy Reid. The Alex Smith-to-Dwayne Bowe tandem should be lethal. The Colts will be reminded that wins will not always come easily, especially on the road.
Projected Colts result: LOSS

nfl_jaglogo_gb1_600Week 17: Colts vs. Jaguars
The Colts will be happy to welcome a familiar foe to Lucas Oil, and they’ll finish the season on a positive note at home.
Projected Colts result: WIN

 

Projected Colts Final Record: 10-6
The Colts may be better this year, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will win more games. Last season was purely magical with the #CHUCKSTRONG winning streak, but magic like that doesn’t happen very often. The Colts will still play well, and I expect Andrew Luck’s completion percentage to go up in Pep Hamilton’s offense. The Colts should make the playoffs as at least a wild card with a 10-6 record.

The Colts’ first regular season game is this Sunday at 1:00. The game will be broadcast on CBS and WISH-TV in Indianapolis. Here’s to an exciting 2013 season!

 

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