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Why the Colts Can Still Win the AFC South

Indianapolis Colts

Last weekend, Indianapolis Colts Pro Bowl quarterback Andrew Luck made a shocking announcement that he was retiring from the NFL. Luck is only 29 years old, and still had many years left in his career. He is a former number one overall draft pick, a four-time Pro-Bowler, and just last year won Comeback Player of the Year.

However, Luck has been battling injuries for much of his career. He has either missed games or played through some type of injury in every season after 2014. Andrew Luck was looking to lead the Colts to a successful season and potential deep playoff run this year. However, he suffered an ankle injury a couple of weeks ago that would keep him out for the start of this season. Because of that, Luck shocked the NFL world and announced his retirement due to the mental and emotional toll of these injuries.

Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck Announces Retirement (Image by AP Photo)

After Luck’s announcement, many people started writing off the Colts playoff hopes. Losing their starting quarterback is a lot for any team to overcome, and could be too much for Indianapolis. However, the Colts should not lose belief in their ability to make the playoffs. Losing Luck potentially brings them down from a bonafide Super Bowl contender to a fringe playoff team. However, there are still reasons to have faith in the Colts chances of winning the AFC South.

Weapons on Offense

The Colts have a slew of weapons on the offensive side of the football. It starts with the known commodity in T.Y. Hilton, arguably one of the top ten receivers in the NFL. However, it does not end with him. Indianapolis has a very reliable running back duo in Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines. Mack averaged 4.7 yards per carry last season, compiling over 900 rushing yards and ten total touchdowns in just ten starts. Hines is a swiss-army knife running back who will be a factor in the rushing, receiving, pass-protection and return game.

The Colts also have an up-and-coming number two receiver in Deon Cain. Cain was a rookie out of Clemson last season, but suffered a season-ending injury in offseason practice. He will return this year and can be a solid factor. Indianapolis’ tight end situation is also enviable. They have two very good tight ends in Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron. Last season, Ebron caught 13 touchdowns and had 750 receiving yards. In 2017, Doyle’s last healthy season, he had almost 700 receiving yards. The combination of tight ends will be a lethal weapon on this Colts offense. Finally, Indianapolis has a finally reliable offensive line, led by left guard Quenton Nelson, who was First-Team All-Pro as a rookie last year.

Young Upcoming Defense

Indianapolis Colts
Darius Leonard (Image by Getty Images)

On the other side of the ball, the Colts also have a talented, young defense which could be one of the best in the league. Last season they ranked 10th in points allowed with one of the youngest units in football. They are led by linebacker Darius Leonard who was an All-Pro last season as a rookie and is continuing to get better. Their secondary is very good at both the cornerback and safety positions. Even the defensive line has improved with the addition of Justin Houston on the outside.

Jacoby Brissett

Last but not least, the quarterback replacing Luck this season is someone with the potential to play well. Jacoby Brissett has solid experience as a starting quarterback, considering he played a full season in 2017 when Luck was out with injury. That year, while the Colts only won four games and Brissett wasn’t great, he was relatively reliable with the football. Jacoby Brissett threw for 3098 yards in 2017, with 13 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. Those numbers don’t explode by any means but the low number of interceptions show he is not careless with the football.

Further, Brissett has had two years since that time to improve as a quarterback. He has learned behind Luck, one of the best in the game. In addition, he has and will continue to learn from head coach Frank Reich, who was a major reason Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz developed so quickly. Brissett’s talent and coaching give him the opportunity to become a Pro-Bowl level quarterback in the future. But even just for this season, his supporting cast and weapons will allow the Colts to win games while he simply acts as a game manager. Indianapolis should be able to compete in the AFC South and potentially win the division.

 

Featured Image by Getty Images

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