OpinionSeptember 8, 2011

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Are the Colts Doomed? Plus, Season Predictions - 14 comments

By R.J. White

Peyton Manning has been ruled out for Week 1; for the last 208 regular season games, he’s been the man starting under center for the Indianapolis Colts in every game since the start of the 1998 season. In fact, the last quarterback to start a game for the Colts other than Manning is Jim Harbaugh, the man who will begin his NFL head coaching career on Sunday when his 49ers face the Seahawks and whose last NFL pass came 10 years ago. If Manning was only a candidate to miss Week 1, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, but word is that Manning will be out “for a while,” whatever that means. There’s even speculation he could miss the entire season. If that happens, are the Colts doomed?

His replacement is one Kerry Collins, a QB that retired this offseason after playing in 195 games in his career. As the Titans’ starting QB last year, Collins amassed a 2-5 record while completing just 57.6 percent of his passes. That’s not going to cut it in Indianapolis. However, from a fantasy perspective, it’s not Armageddon for pieces of the Indianapolis fantasy offense to have Collins back there. After taking over the starting job for good in Week 12 of last season, Collins averaged 237 yards per game while throwing nine touchdowns and just five interceptions. One huge caveat: his two best games in that stretch, which featured a 71.8% completion rate, five TDs and no INTs, came against the Colts. That must be awkward.

It’s clear the Colts offense is going to be worse without the field general taking snaps, and if you can get a good deal for your Colts, I would take it. However, don’t think all your Colts suddenly have zero fantasy value — Kenny Britt’s two best performances last year came with Collins under center. That being said, in real NFL terms I don’t see how this is a playoff team. The running game is subpar, the defense is terrible and now the only irreplaceable player on the team is out. Are the Colts doomed? In a word, yes. Is your fantasy team doomed? Hardly.

Season Predictions

AFC East
New England
New York (WC)

I want to believe in the Bills, but with a terrible O-line, one receiving threat and not much on defense, I just can’t do it. Miami may be better than people realize — I still have some modicum of faith in Chad Henne. The Jets don’t quite have enough to topple the Patriots, who haven’t showed one ounce of slowing down.

AFC North

Cincinnati is an absolute mess and should challenge for the No. 1 pick. There’s not a whole lot wrong with the Ravens, but I think the Browns are posed to make a run. Pittsburgh looks like the clear Super Bowl favorite to me, and Big Ben may take another step forward this year. I’ll take the Steeler defense, receivers and QB over those of the Ravens, which makes them an easy pick.

AFC South
Tennessee (WC)

When you cut your semi-successful QB in order to start the other, other McCown, you’re asking to be ranked dead last in all pre-season predictions. The Colts are due to collapse with Manning out who knows how long (see above). Tennessee should be better than people realize with a competent quarterback, an emerging TE and one of the best RBs in the game. With Wade Phillips running the defense, this division is now Houston’s.

AFC West
San Diego
Kansas City

The Chiefs are due to go first-to-worst with a ridiculously hard schedule and Todd Haley mis-managing the team. Denver is a little better than last year’s record suggests, and Von Miller should make an instant impact. Oakland is closer to the playoffs than you would expect, though the loss of Nnamdi Asomugha is a killer. San Diego is a virtual lock to win this division and return to the playoffs after a one-year absence.

NFC East
Dallas (WC)
New York

The Giants are already crippled beyond belief and will have trouble stopping anyone on defense. If the offensive line doesn’t gel in a hurry, this is going to get really ugly. Washington doesn’t have much at QB, but they’ll do enough to keep them from having a chance at 2012’s top prospects. Dallas has an elite offense and a mediocre defense, but a full season from Romo would mean a playoff berth. The Eagles will start slow but look like Super Bowl favorites by December.

NFC North
Green Bay

The Bears are ready to plummet after outperforming their talent last year. The offensive line is in transition and there isn’t much to speak of at WR or TE. Defense wins championships, but offense wins games. If the Vikings’ offensive line was better, I could get behind them as a potential playoff team. The Lions are the pick du jour for the all-hype team, but I’m not quite certain they have enough to break through. That leaves the Packers as the clear class of this division.

NFC South
New Orleans
Atlanta (WC)
Tampa Bay

In a weaker division, the Panthers might be able to make a little noise, but I can’t see them winning more than six games here. The Buccaneers are due for a little regression, at least until the young defense takes a big step forward together; I think that’s coming next year. The Falcons look like one of the league’s elite teams, but I worry about their running game if Turner wears down. The Saints upgraded on both sides of the ball and look like a championship team.

NFC West
St. Louis
San Francisco

The Seahawks are the leaders for the No. 1 pick in my mind, as poor QB and OL play should doom them all season. The 49ers aren’t going to make any big waves with Alex Smith at QB (cue, David Garrard), and the loss of Aubrayo Franklin really hurts. Arizona should challenge for a playoff bid in a weak division, and since we have no idea how good Kevin Kolb is, this could go either way. St. Louis added a great offensive mind to a great young QB and a head coach that works wonders on defense. Watch out, NFC — this is the biggest Super Bowl sleeper of them all.

AFC Championship: Steelers over Chargers
NFC Championship: Falcons over Saints
Super Bowl: Falcons over Steelers

This would be a surprising outcome to the Super Bowl, but the best team doesn’t always win the title (see last year’s Packers for an example). The Falcons are hungry after being embarrassed in last year’s playoffs, and when they sneak into the playoffs as a Wild Card team, they’ll have the “No one believes in us” factor. Atlanta fits the pattern of Super Bowl winners in recent years, so I’m going with them to upset teams with better records en route to a Super Bowl win.

R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe, writes for FanDuel and Razzball and has previously written for FanHouse. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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14 Responses to “Are the Colts Doomed? Plus, Season Predictions”

  1. TreyvianM says:

    I do agree with almost all of this. Finally a little love for my Browns which Could be a surprise to many this year. The only 2 teams on this I feel could make a run and be ranked higher snf get to playoffs are Tampa Bay and Arizona. I have a feeling these 2 can also pull of some surprises especially Tampa Bay. Arizona needs some more defence to be a real contender. They havnt been the same on special teams without my cousin Pat Tillman (RIP) but with some improvements could be contenders again.

  2. MegaMan says:

    Cleveland over baltimore? Pretty bold.

  3. User avatar daullaz says:

    I went back and added comments to each division. Everyone, please feel free to post your predictions here and to laugh at me in January when yours are far better.

  4. TreyvianM says:

    The seahawks are playing to get andrew luck in my mind. You sign an explosive reciever then no one to get him the ball. My prediction. Andrew Luck to Seattle with the No. 1 overall pick. And heres hoping Cleveland does make a run and possibly a WC spot this year. Us die hard Browns fans deserve some excitement.

  5. Hippo45 says:

    I think your predictions are a bit off. Here are mine

    New England
    Kansas City
    Pittsburgh (WC)
    New York Jets (WC)

    Green Bay
    Tampa Bay
    St. Louis
    Atlanta (WC)
    Philadelphia (WC)

  6. Humdinger says:

    No way chicago finishes last in the division. Aaron Rodgers has a dismal passer rating against the Bears. Urlacher and the boys are his kryptonite. 9-7 feels about right for the Bears, which puts them 2nd in the divison, and maybe in the hunt for a WC birth

  7. y0ukn0wit says:

    I will have to say that your NFC East is a reach. To say that the Redskins will have a better record than the Giants…I hope you wouldn’t wager on that happening. Looking at the schedule Giants will be 5-2 to start while the Redskins 2-5 and the season gets harder after that. Plus that Eagles O-line stinks and I don’t see Vick playing the whole season. With that being said:


  8. Hippo45 says:


    I could easily see the Giants losing their first 4 games and being 3-4 over the first 7 weeks.

  9. User avatar Navyseal says:

    You heard it here first, Washington is flying WAAAAY under anyone’s radar, HOWEVER— both the O/D Lines have improved immensely, the addition of Hightower is the perfect RB for Shanny’s one-cut running scheme, and Gross Rexman will merely be asked to manage the game— that’s all. Nobody here in D.C. is expecting much better than a 7-9 season — 8-8 at BEST… but don’t be shocked if the Skins contend for a WC berth now that the drama is largely gone (Fat Albert is now BB’s problem in New England ), so now they can simply PLAY FOOTBALL. If they stay relatively healthy on both sides of the football, I truly believe that the Skins can at the very least, play well in the first half of their schedule and go, say, 5-3, and then maybe play a spoiler type role and beat some teams in a brutal 2nd half of the schedule that many have already penciled in as losses for Shanny and the gang… all I am saying is watch out for a team that nobody expects much from, and that team this season just may be the Washington Redskins, MY WILDCARD pick for the NFC… lastly, I like BALT to win their division and PITT getting that WC spot in the AFC.

  10. User avatar spodog says:

    Don’t think SD is a “virtual lock” to win the AFC West. Recall the Raiders went 6-0 in the Division last year, and they have a (somewhat) improved QB situation.

    The Chargers are perennial underachievers. Top offense in the league, one of the top defenses in the league, and this team can’t get out of it’s own way.

    They haven’t won a road game (regular season or preseason) since Christmas Day 2009 and they found a way to lose to the Bengals and Rams last year.

    The Chargers will dump at least 3 or 4 games that they are favored to win this year and open the door for OAK or KC to take the division at 8-8 or 9-7.

  11. y0ukn0wit says:

    That’s a bold prediction…2-2 or better to start and thats a bet I would take, 0-4 is a reach (they’re not the Bengals)…. And speaking of under the radar somehow people forgot that they were 10-6 last year and plagued by injuries through out the year as well.

  12. y0ukn0wit says:

    You just put the Skins at 8-8 as a WC playoff team when the Giants missed the playoffs last year at 10-6. I can tell you’re a fan and the few offseason moves got you excited for the new season, but heres a few of my points to consider:
    1) Your QB is Rex Grossman
    2) You play in the NFC East (6 games)
    3) NFC east plays the AFC East (Patriots and Jets) this year (2 games)

    ….Good Luck!

  13. User avatar DraftDodger says:

    I’m surprised we’re not seeing the Colts mentioned as a destination for Garrard. Collins is a generic adhesive bandage (not Band-Aid brand). Even if we jump on the Collins (tiny) bandwagon, the Colts have the same problem they had before getting him; they don’t have a quality back-up.

    Garrard makes dollar$ and sense if he lands in Indy.

  14. User avatar Navyseal says:

    hahaha, I hear u loud n clear youknowit, but someone in this town has to try and stay positive… I realize it’s a reach, but each yr, some 4-6 win team makes the playoffs and surprises everyone, this yr that team MIGHT be the Skins… Shanny manages Qbs fairly well, & Rex at least knows the system, and performed admirably at the end of last yr and nearly beat your G-Men don’t fergit…plus Rex might not have the job all yr long if he truly sucks… Just watch the O/D line play, and let’s revisit this in a couple months… Again HEALTH is a KEY, as WASH is not particularly deep, and the Dirty-30 ain’t quite back to playing shape just yet.

    GL to you as well!


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