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2012 NFL Team Preview: Indianapolis Colts

What a difference a year makes. The Colts were expected to still be a playoff team in 2011, even with Peyton Manning missing a ‘few games.’ Well, he went on to miss the entire season, Indianapolis received nothing from the quarterback position and finished with a 2-14 record.

The Indianapolis Colts have many question marks going into the 2012 season. They are just at the beginning of the rebuilding process and fans will have to endure another bad season. Arguably, this season won’t hurt as bad since Kerry Collins won’t out there fumbling their happiness away.

There are a slew of new faces in Indianapolis this year. Forget about Luck, new head coach Chuck Pagano and new offensive coordinator Bruce Arians are the two new guys who will make the biggest impact in 2012.

Here is our 2012 NFL team preview for the Indianapolis Colts.

2011 Win/Loss Record: 2-14

Key Additions: QB Andrew Luck, RB Mewelde Moore, WR Donnie Avery, S Tom Zbikowski, C Samson Satele, DT Cory Redding, CB Justin King, C Mike McGlynn, DT Brandon McKinney, WR T.Y. Hilton, TE Colby Fleener, TE Dwayne Allen, DT Josh Chapman, OG Zane Taylor, RB Vick Ballard and WR LaVon Brazill.

Key Losses: QB Peyton Manning, RB Joseph Addai, LB Gary Brackett, S Melvin Bullitt, TE Dallas Clark, QB Kerry Collins, WR Pierre Garcon, WR Anthony Gonzalez, CB Jacob Lacey, WR Blair White, QB Dan Orlovsky, QB Curtis Painter, C Jeff Saturday, TE Jacob Tamme, LB Phillip Wheeler, DE Jamaal Anderson, OG Ryan Diem, DT Eric Foster, OG Mike Pollack, OG Jamey Richard, LB Ernie Sims and Brody Eldridge.

Non-Division Schedule: AFC East and NFC North

Fantasy Sleeper: RB Delone Carter – The starting running back job is up for grabs in Indianapolis. Joseph Addai is gone and they will need either Donald Brown, Vick Ballard or Delone Carter to shine during training camp. Brown is the front-runner for the job. If he gets it, Carter should get plenty of goal-line carries. He is currently the front-runner to be the third-down back. I almost picked Ballard for the sleeper, since he has the same build as Carter. If Carter is taken in your fantasy football draft, WR T.Y. Hilton is a nice deep sleeper. WR Donnie Avery is already banged up in training camp and he has left an opening for a receiver to shine.

Team Analysis: Just look at the list of guys who have arrived or left this organization in the last five months. It will take a few weeks just for these guys to know their teammates’ names. Andrew Luck will have a productive, yet humbling rookie season. He will not have Cam Newton’s numbers, but will end the season better than he was when he arrived at training camp. The receiving corps will help him out a lot. Just by having his old college teammate Colby Fleener out there will help Luck feel more comfortable. The running game was horrible last year and does not appear to be improved this season either. Donald Brown could go from ‘draft bust’ to ‘late bloomer’ with a good season. The Colts’ defense is a complete crapshoot. There are so many new faces and young players expected to contribute, they are bound to look bad at times. The coaches hope the learning curve is small for the young players and guys like Pat Angerer can keep improving. Indianapolis will be bad this season, but they will be watchable…something you could not say last season.

2012 Wins Over/Under Line: 5 (Prediction: UNDER)

2012 Projected Win/Loss Record: 3-13

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Not Again! Bob Sanders Out For Year

Bob Sanders was the Defensive Player Of The Year just a few seasons ago, but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy since. He is under-sized and is a very physical player, which may lead to some of his past injuries. There is no doubt that the Colts are a better team with Sanders in the lineup, but they have done well without this year, but will this injury lead to the Colts’ defense being exposed?

It’s been a long time since the Colts have had a great player in their secondary. Jeff Burris was a good player and Ray Buchanan had a few good seasons, but went on to the Falcons and had his career years. Bob Sanders was the first elite defensive back that I can remember the Colts having since they moved to Indianapolis. He hasn’t stayed healthy since he signed his contract extension and it’s possible if he can’t stay on the field next year, he could see his way out of Indianapolis. The Colts no longer play the Tampa 2 and they have learned to play without him for most of the last few years. He is clearly a slow healer, unlike Dwight Freeney, who if he gets injured, seems to be back on the field the next week.

The Colts are currently undefeated, it’s not uncommon really, over the last few years this has happened a few times. They go through the first-half of the year undefeated, then they start to play divisional opponents a second time and then usually a tough game against the Patriots or Steelers and lose a few games. Injuries usually start to add up and a team that goes 8-0 in the first half, ends up as a 12-4 team.

The injuries that I am most worried about are the injuries to Marlin Jackson and Kelvin Hayden. Jackson injured his knee in practice for the second-straight season. He will miss the remainder of the season, an injury is that is similar to what occurred in 2008. Hayden will miss a few weeks with an injury, so he will miss the Patriots game. With these two guys out, they will have to start two rookie corners for the next few weeks. Tom Brady could be drooling by that time, since he has been known to go after rookie corners, but if he has two of them to carve up, it could be a long game for Indianapolis. Jacob Lacey and Jerraud Powers will be tested over the next few weeks.

I was worried about the Colts at the beginning of the year. Anthony Gonzalez suffered a knee injury in the first game and has yet to return. He had his knee scoped this week, so the timetable for his return may have been pushed back a few weeks. They have a nice young receiving corps and guys like Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie has stepped up in place of Gonzalez. He can afford to stay away and fully heal up, a luxury that members on the defense do not have.

The next few weeks will be a test for the Colts. They have two games against the red-hot Matt Schaub and the Texans, the Patriots, and the Ravens over the next four weeks. If they get past these four games, they only have the Broncos and Jets as possible teams to knock them out of the ranks of the unbeaten.

I don’t think this team should worry about staying unbeaten, if they know anything, a loss in the regular season doesn’t mean much, it looks like they will win the AFC South. A loss in the post-season will end their season, if they are going to have a bad game, they better have it in the regular season or another productive season will go up in flames.

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A Sports & Entertainment blog that focuses on absurdity in sports, snarky banter, updates on Tim Tebow’s virginity, and decent sports gambling advice.