NFL futures: Colts to win division

The Indianapolis Colts tried to see if Carson Wentz could get them to the promised land. They not only gave the Philadelphia Eagles a 2021 third-round pick, but also a 2022 first-round pick after Wentz played 75% of the snaps last season. The result, not all that close to winning a Super Bowl. In fact, they didn’t even make the playoffs.

It gets worse, though. All the Colts needed to do was win one of their last two games to close out the regular season and they were in the playoffs. Indianapolis didn’t get it done as they lost to the Las Vegas Raiders 23-20 in Week 17 before losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars 26-11 in Week 18.

What happened in the offseason was inevitable. The Colts shopped Wentz, a 2022 second-round pick and a 2022 seventh-round pick off to the Washington Commanders in exchange for a 2022 second-round pick, a 2022 third-round pick and a 2023 third-round pick, which turns into a second-round pick if Wentz plays 70% of the snaps this season. Less than two weeks later, the Colts acquired former NFL MVP Matt Ryan from the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for a 2022 third-round pick.

But the Colts weren’t done making big moves yet. They also signed 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore to a two-year contract.

The message is clear. Indianapolis isn’t just going for the AFC South or the AFC Title, they’re going all in for a Super Bowl. And not down the road, but now.

This is why you need to jump on Indianapolis to win the AFC South right now. I know, I know. I just said Indianapolis is going for a Super Bowl – a much loftier goal than the AFC South Division title – so why are we talking about them just winning the division? The answer? The AFC is stacked. Kansas City, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Buffalo, Denver … you get the point. All these teams are ready to win the AFC now, too. It’s just too risky for me to touch.

Don’t get me wrong, putting money on Indianapolis to win the Super Bowl at 25/1 is not a bad bet, but the safe bet is putting money on the Colts to win the AFC South at -105 (odds via FanDuel and Bet MGM). I don’t see that line getting any better, especially with a favorable schedule to open the season with Houston and Jacksonville as their first two opponents.

It’s clear the Colts significantly upgraded at the quarterback position with the acquisition of Ryan. Not only can Ryan win you games, he’s not going to lose you games. He has a career completion percentage of 66%, has thrown more than 20 touchdowns in 13 straight seasons and has never started less than 14 games in each of his 14 seasons. Now add Ryan to an offense that already features one of the best offensive lines in the game, the NFL rushing leader in Jonathan Taylor, a 1,000-yard receiver in Michael Pittman Jr. and an offense that finished ninth in points per game (26.5) could finish in the top five in points per game.

Defensively the Colts were solid last season, allowing just 21.5 points per game (ninth best in the NFL). That was without a true No. 1 cornerback. Gilmore fills that void. Gilmore might not be the player he was when he won DPOY in 2019 with New England, but he’s still a Pro Bowl-caliber corner. That now gives the Colts an elite defensive player at each level of their defense – DeForest Buckner, defensive Line; Darius Leonard; linebacker; Gilmore, defensive back.

Yes, the Tennessee Titans will contend with Indianapolis for the AFC South Division title, but without a true No. 1 wide receiver after trading AJ Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles, the division is the Colts’ to lose. Ten wins should win this division, and I don’t see Indianapolis having a problem getting there. The Colts finished with nine wins last season despite Wentz at quarterback and back-to-back disappointing losses to close out the season, plus they play the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars twice, and the New York Giants and Washington Commanders.

The Bet: Colts to win the AFC South (-105)

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