The Colts were a trendy Super Bowl pick last season, this season they want to be a favorite

Stephon Gilmore

Stephon Gilmore
Photo: Getty Images

The Indianapolis Colts were certainly not thrilled with the way that their 2021 season ended. It started in disappointing fashion by losing their first three games. They improved, but still lost twice to division rival Tennessee Titans, including a heartbreaker at home — 34-31 in overtime. Then the Colts went on a tear.

They won six of their next seven games, forcing people to realize their roster was one of the deepest in the NFL. When healthy, their offensive line was outstanding and their main ball carrier, Jonathan Taylor, was exceptional behind that group, totaling 2,171 yards from scrimmage and 20 touchdowns. Michael Pittman Jr. showed that he is a capable No. 1 wide receiver with 88 catches for 1,082 yards and six touchdowns. The Colts defense was ranked seventh overall in weighted DVOA by Football Outsiders.

By Week 17, the Colts were a chic pick to win the Super Bowl, and then their season ended with a loud fart instead of a bang. They lost at home to the Las Vegas Raiders, but still only had to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars to get to the playoffs. The Jaguars, who had a few weeks prior fired their coach, Urban Meyer, during one of the great single-season disasters in NFL history, ended their season with the great consolation prize of their second win of the season, and the bonus of knocking a division rival out of the playoffs — the Colts.

That loaded roster couldn’t make a seven-team playoff, so instead of standing pat, they decided to make some changes. For one, they did not hesitate to bail on Carson Wentz after one season and the all of 185 yards he totaled on 17 pass attempts in a must-win game against a terrible team. The Colts are going with a different starter this season, the ever steady Matt Ryan. The 2016 MVP may not be spectacular, but there’s a good chance that he will not be spectacularly awful especially on a team this talented.

Not satisfied with their defense as is, the Colts inked another NFL award winner to a contract. Today, they signed 2019 Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore to a two-year deal. He was traded midway through last season from the New England Patriots to the Carolina Panthers. He will play opposite Pro Bowl cornerback Kenny Moore II.

Gilmore wasn’t the only player the Colts added to their stout defense. To bolster their pass rush they traded for Yannick Ngakoue, who totaled 10 sacks last season, the second double-digit sack season of his career. He will join a front seven that already includes some of the best players in the NFL in Darius Leonard and DeForest Buckner.

The Colts could still use some speed at wide receiver, but unfortunately their most glaring weakness this year is that they don’t have a first-round draft choice. Still, this is a deep wide receiver class, and Chris Ballard has proven himself to be great at finding talent at any round during the NFL Draft.

They had every reason to be upset with the way that last season ended, but going all in has no guarantees, especially in the loaded AFC. The Colts are still going to have to fight off the Titans in their division, and a playoff matchup against the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, or 2021 AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals on the horizon. Also the Baltimore Ravens should have better injury luck than they did last season, and the Cleveland Browns will also be a championship contender after adding Deshaun Watson, and they will also be hoping that the injury bug doesn’t come biting so hard in 2022.

The road to the Super Bowl is not smooth by any means for the Indianapolis Colts, but they have loaded up as best as they can for the journey. It’s a roster that can stack up with any in the NFL, all they have to do now is stay as healthy as possible and avoid tripping over their own two feet again at the end of the season.

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