Ok I admit, the Colts have been an impressive team in recent years. Winning the division in each of the last 5 years is an accomplishment any team could be proud of. Though some might argue (quite convincingly) that Rex Grossman single-handedly lost that Superbowl for the Bears, I'll take the high road and give Manning credit for leading his team to victory.
A great team indeed.
But things are changing... Marvin Harrison is getting long in the tooth, being distracted by legal troubles, and his health is still questionable. Fanboy Colt disciples will claim that he has looked fantastic in training camp - we'll see once he starts getting hit properly how well he holds up. Ben Utecht is gone. Manning had an infected bursa sac removed and isn't there to practice. How serious was the procedure? Hard to say, but when a team starts filling its roster with backup quarterbacks, you know it's a concern of the FO. Bob Sanders is injury prone, yet somehow managed to get through 2007 basically unscathed. Could he repeat this feat? Not so sure he can.
Sure, Manning still has reliable targets in Dallas Clark, Reggie Wayne, and Anthony Gonzalez, but if something happens to any one of them, or if Peyton struggles with his injury recovery, this situation could quickly deteriorate.
Freeney, the highly paid superstar DE, basically has not played football in about 10 months. His Lisfranc injury is serious, and could linger for years to come. To expect him to ever return to top form is wishful thinking; it could happen, but the odds are against him.
A solid secondary and a decent linebacking corps does put the Colts in a good spot to play good defense again. But you slow down that offense, and put the Colts D on the field more, and you can expect them to fall off in effectiveness.
Besides, is Tony Dungy's heart still in it? I have a feeling he'd rather deploy his "quiet strength" and preach to prison inmates than coach football.
It is my sense that we will see the beginning of the great unravelling this year. My prediction, the Colts win 10 games and finish 3rd in the AFC South.
It will be so much fun for the Titans to maul this team this year.