Scouting the South: Indianapolis Colts

US PRESSWIRE

Continuing our preview of AFC South teams with a look at one of the surprises of 2012. Can Andrew Luck's Colts duplicate last season's magic?

2012 Recap: The Colts got off to a sluggish 2-3 start, including a loss to the Jaguars in Week 3. After being diagnosed with cancer Chuck Pagano had to take a medical leave and Bruce Arians took over as interim head coach. Fortunately for Colts fans the team rallied around their ill coach, only losing two of their last 11 games. That was good enough to post an 11-5 record and earn a wildcard berth. Pagano would return to the team after beating the cancer but even that emotional boost wasn't enough to get by the Baltimore Ravens.

Free Agency Review: Indianapolis had a busy free agency in an attempt to bolster both sides of the ball. Andrew Luck will have former Lion Gosder Cherilus at tackle to help keep him upright and speedster Darrius Heyward-Bey was signed from the Raiders to add to the receiver depth. Matt Hasselbeck was signed to backup the sophomore QB and add some veteran experience to the locker room. Defensively the team handed out a lot of cash for Greg Toler, Erik Walden, LaRon Landry and Ricky Jean-Francois. Walden's signing was peculiar - while Pagano is a well-respected defensive mind Walden has accumulated eight sacks and two interceptions in five NFL seasons (split between three teams). Walden will be a replacement for Dwight Freeney, who signed with the Chargers. They also lost the inconsistent Jerraud Powers to the Cardinals.

Draft Review: It was a fairly uninspiring draft by the Colts this year. Bjoern Werner was selected 24th overall to add once again to the incoming edge rush players. Werner will play linebacker in the Colts' 3-4 defense, an odd fit for someone lacking an elite first step and acceleration. He also has no prior experience in the system. In the third round the Colts picked guard Hugh Thornton (they did not have a second rounder this year). No one really stood out amongst the mid- and late-round picks.

Most Dangerous Player to the Titans: Andrew Luck led the Colts to the playoffs his rookie season but his overall stats ended up on the low side - particularly his completion percentage. He also threw an alarming number of interceptions. With a change to a more conservative passing game though expect the percentage to go up and the interceptions to go down. Offensively the Colts don't have the firepower of an elite offense but Andrew Luck has the potential to elevate those around him and attack the Titans' pass defense.

Underrated Player: Dwayne Allen is often overlooked as the media loves to talk about Coby Fleener. He's a big, agile target that can run a variety of routes. The tight ends are the best weapons of the Colts' offense and Allen should get more looks in his sophomore year.

Overrated Player: Ricky Jean-Francois played on a feared San Francisco defense last year but that defense was also loaded with talent at a lot of positions. It's hard to gauge how much success can be attributed to Jean-Francois. He's definitely a capable starting defensive tackle but the Colts are banking on him being a little more than that.

2013 Outlook: The Colts surprised everyone by notching 11 wins but some of that has to be attributed to a very easy schedule. Regression seems likely at this point. Their young talent may improve but there are still holes on the roster. It's hard to get a read on their defense as well. They've brought in several new starters but it's uncertain how good those starters actually will be. The team took some big gambles and if those don't pan out they'll be even more vulnerable. Don't underestimate the loss of former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians either. His offense has its weaknesses but his work with young quarterbacks has been solid. Pep Hamilton's offense will likely have significantly less 'chunk' plays.

Predicted Record: 6-10

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