The Indianapolis Colts have enjoyed a great deal of dominance amongst the AFC South for the last few years. With the division growing stronger, can the Colts still win the division, and ultimately make the playoffs moving forward?
The Indianapolis Colts over the last decade have been accustomed to their yearly hangings of their division championship banners atom the Lucas Oil Stadium rafters. In 2015 however, things were vastly different for the Colts.
Rather than sweeping their division like they had in years prior, the Colts won four games out of the six against division foes — including a week-14 blowout in which the Colts lost to the Jacksonville jaguars 51-16.
The Colts may very well no longer enjoy those blowout games against their division. On paper, each team improved their rosters mightily through both free agency and the draft. These improvements could very well give the Colts some fits moving forward.
In quarterback Andrew Luck‘s first three seasons in the NFL with the Colts, he lead the team to three-straight 11-win seasons and playoff berths in each — having advanced further in the playoffs every year.
Things weren’t all so fortunate for the Colts in 2015. The club finished the season with just eight wins, and ultimately missed out on the postseason for just the 2nd time in 14 years — thanks in part to the Houston Texans’ clinching of the AFC South.
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Now, it can be argued that one of the main reasons for the Colts’ letdown of a season could have been due to the fact that the team was without their franchise quarterback for over half of the season.
Luck suffered various injuries throughout the year — including a partially separated shoulder early on in the year, as well as a lacerated kidney injury suffered late in the team’s week-nine victory over the Denver Broncos.
The piling of the injuries cost Luck a total of nine games this past season — leaving veteran Matt Hasselbeck to carry the troubled team through the storm for a large portion of 2015.
When Luck was healthy and the Colts were clicking on all levels, they battled with some of the NFL’s best — losing by three in overtime in an away game against the Carolina Panthers, and the team’s victory against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos’ league-best defense at home mid-way through the year. In case some may have forgotten, these two teams faced off against each other in the Super Bowl back in February.
If the Colts do wish to make the playoffs in 2016 and regain their dominance in their division, Luck will need to have a healthy and productive year as he did in 2014 and the offense will need to have good chemistry and mesh well together from the start of the season.
With a draft that addressed several needs amongst the offensive line and defense, the Colts look to bounce back and make a run at the postseason. The AFC South should no longer be considered a cakewalk anymore, so Indianapolis will have to work harder if they wish to mirror their success in years prior.
If not, then the Colts could quickly dwindle towards the bottom of the division in the future.