The sting of a loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2021 regular-season finale likely lingered for quite some time for the Indianapolis Colts. It was an unusual way to be knocked out of playoff contention.
The disappointing end to the season spoiled a spectacular season by running back Jonathan Taylor. It also brought a quick end to Carson Wentz’s time with the Colts. Wentz was traded to Washington and Indianapolis brought in veteran Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.
Cornerback Stephon Gilmore is another significant addition for the Colts. Ryan and Gilmore will look to lead the Colts back into the postseason.
The top three picks by Indianapolis in the 2022 NFL Draft came on offense. The Colts scored the most points in the AFC South and also had the best point differential in the division, so the new additions could make the offense even more productive.
Taylor (+700) is tied for the best odds to win the NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award according to the NFL betting props. He is also tied for the best odds among running backs for the NFL’s regular-season MVP award.
The Colts scored 25 points or less in six of their eight losses last season, so consistency on that side of the ball will be a point of emphasis. The hope is that the addition of Ryan will help Indianapolis move the ball through the air if opponents bottle up the running game.
The Colts (-125) have the best odds to win the AFC South Division title. According to the Las Vegas odds, the Colts (+2500) are tied for seventh among AFC teams in the odds to win the Super Bowl.
- 2021 record: 9-8 (second in AFC South)
- Playoff result: Did not qualify.
- Season opener: at Houston Texans, Sept. 11, 1 p.m. EDT
- Playoff teams on 2022 schedule: HOME – Kansas City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Tennessee; AWAY – Dallas, Las Vegas, New England, Tennessee
- Key newcomers: QB Matt Ryan, CB Stephon Gilmore, RB Phillip Lindsay, DE Ifeadi Odenigbo, QB Nick Foles, LB Brandon King; WR Alec Pierce (second-round pick); TE Jelani Woods (third-round pick); OT Bernhard Raimann (third-round pick); S Nick Cross (third-round pick)..
- Key losses: QB Carson Wentz. RB Marlon Mack, OT Julien Davenport, OT Eric Fisher, DE Isaac Rochell, LB Matthew Adams, S George Odom, DE Al-Quadin Muhammed, CB Xavier Rhodes.
- Award candidates: Jonathan Taylor, +700 in the NFL Offensive Player of the Year odds; Darius Leonard, +5000 in the NFL Defensive Player of the Year odds; Michael Pittman, +6000 in the NFL Offensive Player of the Year odds; Matt Ryan, +6000 in the NFL Offensive Player of the Year odds; DeForest Buckner, +8000 in the NFL Defensive Player of the Year odds; Stephon Gilmore, +8000 in the NFL Defensive Player of the Year odds; Yannick Ngakoue, +8000 in the NFL Defensive Player of the Year odds; Alec Pierce, +10000 in the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year odds.
There’s not much concern about the Colts’ running game after Taylor led the NFL with 1,811 rushing yards. According to the NFL predictions, Taylor comes into the season tied for the best odds to win the NFL Offensive Player of the Year award.
It will be worth watching to see how Ryan’s arrival changes the passing offense. Michael Pittman had a breakout season with 88 catches for 1,029 yards. No other player had more than 40 catches so that is something that needs to be addressed. Having Parris Campbell for more than six games during the 2022 season would be a nice place to start after his injury-shortened 2021 campaign.
The Colts took receiver Alec Pierce and tight end Jelani Woods with their top two picks before adding offensive tackle Bernhard Raimann. They could make a pretty good offense all the more dangerous.
Quenton Nelson could be the best offensive lineman in the NFL while Ryan Kelly and Braden Smith are other veterans as the Colts used early picks to address the offensive line.
Having three players with more than 100 tackles was an indication that the defense was on the field quite a bit a season ago.
Gilmore, the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and a five-time Pro Bowl selection will certainly help the secondary. He joins a team that had five players with at least two interceptions. Cornerback Kenny Moore was very busy a season ago with 82 solo tackles and tied for the team lead with four interceptions.
Bobby Okereke and Darius Leonard form a pretty good 1-2 punch at linebacker, giving the Colts one of the top units in the NFL.
— PFF (@PFF) June 29, 2022
DeForest Buckner led the Colts with seven sacks. A key will be for the Colts to get more production from its edge rushers. It won’t be easy with Al-Quadin Muhammed now with the Bears. However, the Colts did trade for Yannick Ngakoue. The Colts will be his fifth team in the last four seasons, but regardless of where he played, Ngakoue has been a productive player with at least eight sacks in each of his first six NFL seasons.
It will be worth keeping an eye on Kwity Paye as he should make a jump after recording four sacks as a rookie.
2022 Colts Outlook
The Colts come into the 2022 season with high expectations. It won’t be that surprising if Taylor’s workload is cut back a little bit. Ryan has proven that he can be an elite quarterback. Time will tell how much he has left.
The Colts open the season against Houston and Jacksonville, so a 2-0 start is a distinct possibility. Things will get significantly tougher after that with contests against Kansas City, Tennessee and Denver. There is a stretch later in the season when the Colts have five games in a row against teams that were part of the 2021 playoffs.
According to the NFL picks, the Colts have an expected regular-season win total of 9½ with the odds at -125 for them to go over that total. The Colts are a year removed from an 11-win season and it won’t be surprising to see them approach that number once again.