Dubious to say the least, the Colts’ chances in the upcoming season really hang in the balance of health and as of this writing, the scale is tipped in the direction of obscurity. At the heart of the conversation, it’s the questions surrounding Andrew Luck and his surgically repaired throwing shoulder.
Luck is the single most important player in the Colts organization but the five years of abuse he’s endured since entering the league has left the Stanford product a battered and sometimes broken man. If Indy succeeds in 2017, it will be because they finally found a way to protect No. 12 in a backfield that’s seen more traffic than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
With starting center Ryan Kelly set to miss four or more games to start the season and the rest of the offensive line doing its best impression of the truffle shuffle, though, Luck’s situation seems as dire as ever.
An offseason that saw general manager Ryan Grigson replaced by former Chiefs man Chris Ballard was supposed to usher in a new era of stability in Indianapolis but it could take some time to lay the foundation after years of impulse decisions left it somewhat precarious.
Can the Colts exceed expectations and get back to the playoffs for the first time since they were embarrassed by the Patriots in the 2014 AFC championship game? Here’s what oddsmakers are saying:
Super Bowl +50000
Only one team can win the Super Bowl each year and the 2017 Indianapolis Colts are not it. Ballard was a good hire and he has the franchise pointing in the right direction in terms of personnel but a championship team is not built overnight – or in an offseason, for that matter.
Most of the spring and summer was spent fixing a defense that ranked 30th in total yards allowed a year ago and while it should be much improved after a good draft and some keen bargain hunting in free agency, there are still far too many holes in this roster for a Super Bowl run to be a tangible crusade.
Barring some kind of miracle season from Luck, an NFL championship is totally out of the question for a team that’s gone 8-8 and missed the playoffs in back-to-back campaigns.
AFC South +250
Laughably bad for a long time and coming off a season when it was deemed one of the worst divisions of all time, the AFC South could make a major leap in 2017 with the Titans and Texans both on upward trajectories. If Indy regresses at all, they’ll be fighting for scraps with the Jacksonville Joke-guars.
If everything goes their way, though, the Colts (who own the easiest schedule in pro football) could find themselves on top of a division that’s still completely unproven. This bet is a complete stay away for me.
Win Total – 8
It’s looking like Luck’s shoulder recovery could leak into the regular season, leaving Scott Tolzien as the Colts’ No. 1 option at quarterback. That’s a shaky prospect. The 29-year-old backup QB has made three starts in his NFL career, compiling just an awful portfolio.
Monitor Luck’s status and if it looks like Tolzien will be asked to make more than a start or two, hammer the UNDER.
Andrew Luck to Lead the NFL in Passing Touchdowns +1200
When Luck is healthy, he’s one of the best in the NFL – of that there’s no doubt. If his surgery was successful and he’s back at 100 percent pure stinky arm power? There’s no limit to what he could achieve with a massively talented receiving corps that’s led by T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief.
Luck accomplished this feat back in 2014 when he paced the NFL in touchdown passes with 40 in his best season as a professional. Hell, he threw for 31 last season and he had a busted shoulder.
Starting the season on the physically unable to perform list, however, could vastly diminish his potential for throwing TDs and I’ll only be getting a piece of this prop if Oliver’s son gets the call for Week 1.
Odds as of August 23 at Sportsbook