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NFL: Indianapolis Colts season preview

The Colts can't wait for the new season to start, so everyone in Indianapolis can finally stop talking about the horrid ending to their ill-fated 2021 campaign.

Losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars any time should be a source of discomfort, but losing to them in Week 18 when your season is on the line is just about as bad as it gets.

Changes were needed and they acted decisively in Indy with Carson Wentz sent packing for a conditional third-round pick, and ex-Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan coming in for a similar amount of draft capital.

If the 37-year-old still has enough gas in the tank then the Colts could make amends for their nightmare finish last January and rumble into the postseason on the back of a much more balanced attack.

It could be a small window to win with Ryan under center and there's a widespread feeling that anything but a deep playoff run could spell the end of Frank Reich's tenure as head coach.

What

NFL Season 2022/23

Where

All across the U.S.A with three games scheduled for London, one for Munich and one in Mexico City.

When

September 8th 2022 - February 12th 2023

How to watch

The vast majority of games are live and on-demand with NFL Game Pass, while selected games are available via Sky Sports and Sports Live Streaming

Odds

BUF Bills +600, TB Buccaneers +700, KC Chiefs +1000, LA Rams +1000, GB Packers +1200

Where did the Indianapolis Colts finish last season?

2nd AFC South (9-8)

What are the Indianapolis Colts' hopes for the season?

It feels as though Indy needs to make this season count more than any other since Peyton Manning left in 2012.

They will have their sixth different Week 1 starting quarterback in the last six years and a new defensive coordinator after the Chicago Bears liked Matt Eberflus' work so much they made him their head coach back in the spring.

Gus Bradley was a sound appointment as his replacement and his penchant for running a lot of three-safety personnel packages could help in the early part of the campaign when defensive playmaker Shaquille Leonard is sidelined.

The defence has the potential to be elite again and, if Reich and offensive coordinator Marcus Brady can restore some balance to an attack that became too oriented around Jonathan Taylor, then the Colts can be legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

But there are six teams in the AFC that are more favoured than Indianapolis, who are +1200 to win the conference, so it promises to be a dogfight right to the end of the regular season.

Who are the Indianapolis Colts' opening opponents?

The Colts have been presented with a great chance to open with a win when they visit NRG Stadium to face the Houston Texans on Sunday September 11th.

Indianapolis have been slow starters in recent years, dropping eight consecutive opening-week games, but they have won four straight against the Texans.

The Colts galloped to a 31-0 road victory at NRG Stadium last year and won an early-season home date with Houston by a similar score.

Hence, the hosts are +300 on the Money Line to spring a shock in Space City with Frank Reich's men at -380 on the Money Line.

When are the Indianapolis Colts' key matchups?

Most of the Colts' toughest opponents outside of the division will come to play at Lucas Oil Stadium, including the Kansas City Chiefs - the recognised barometer all Super Bowl pretenders must measure themselves against.

The Chiefs will be Indianapolis' first real test in Week 3 and they next host AFC South champions the Tennessee Titans seven days later, but the toughest game in the first half of the schedule is likely to come in Week 5.

That's when the Colts must go to Mile High to take on the Denver Broncos, led by new QB Russell Wilson on a short week for a Thursday night matchup on primetime TV.

There are three more nationally televised games later in the season with the Week 13 trip to face the Dallas Cowboys and the visit of  the improving Los Angeles Chargers in Week 16 both looking like potential do-or-die duels.

Related NFL News

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NFL - US Sports: Denver Broncos season preview

NFL - US Sports: Dallas Cowboys season preview

Who is the Indianapolis Colts head coach?

Reich, +2000 to be Coach of the Year, heads into his fifth season at Lucas Oil Stadium with some question marks hanging over his judgement.

The former Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator was the driving force behind the Colts' acquisition of Wentz from his former team.

He also admitted he and his staff got outcoached by their Las Vegas Raiders counterparts in the Week 17 loss that left it all on the line against the Jaguars. 

The 60-year-old has a 38-30 record overall and his team have made the postseason two out of his first four years, so he deserves a shot at redemption this season.

Which players have the Indianapolis Colts signed?

QB Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons)
QB Nick Foles (Chicago Bears)
RB Phillip Lindsay (Miami Dolphins)
OT Dennis Kelly (Green Bay Packers)
DE Yannick Ngakoue (Las Vegas Raiders)
CB Stephon Gilmore (Carolina Panthers)
S Rodney McLeod (Philadelphia Eagles)
S Armani Watts (Kansas City Chiefs)

Which players have left the Indianapolis Colts?

QB Carson Wentz (Washington Commanders)
RB Marlon Mack (Houston Texans)
WR T.Y. Hilton
TE Jack Doyle
OT Eric Fisher
OT Sam Tevi
OG Mark Glowinski (New York Giants)
DE Al-Quadin Muhammad (Chicago Bears)
CB Xavier Rhodes
CB Rock Ya-Sin (Las Vegas Raiders)
S Khari Willis

Who are the Indianapolis Colts' key players?

Offensive MVP

Jonathan Taylor

Defensive MVP

Shaquille Leonard

Top rookie

WR Alex Pierce (2nd Round)

Breakout star

RB Nyheim Hines

Taylor was a one-man wrecking machine for the Colts offense last season as he finished the 2021 campaign with the unofficial triple crown for NFL running backs - the most rushing yards (1,811), rushing attempts (332), and touchdowns (18).

But an overreliance on him to break tackles and make first downs probably caused the Colts offence to become too predictable and Reich intends to dial the feature back's workload down somewhat this season.

That should lead to more opportunities for second-string RB Hines, who established career highs in rushing yards per attempt (4.9) and yards per catch (7.8) last year on limited chances.

Leonard, formerly known by his first name Darius but now going by his middle name Shaquille, underwent back surgery to cure a nerve issue in June.

He totalled 537 tackles, 16 forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries, 11 interceptions, and 15 sacks through his first four seasons in the league, so the Colts defence will have to step up until he's fit enough to return.

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