November 18, 2011

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Could the Indianapolis Colts go 0-16?

By: Junior

Could the Indianapolis Colts go 0-16?

Going into their bye week this Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts are a brutal 0-10. Before the Detroit Lions in 2008, losing every game on your schedule in a 16 game season was thought to be impossible. Could it possibly happen again just three years later? I thought I would take a look at the Colts remaining 6 games and see just how real the possibility may be.

Carolina

This could be their best chance at finally getting a win. The Colts have been at home for their previous two games and will be yet again when Carolina comes to Lucas Oil Field. Add to that the extra time they have to rest from their bye, and Indianapolis should be well prepared for this game.

Unfortunately for them the 2-7 Panthers are no pushover. Cam Newton is getting better and better as he continues to get more comfortable in the NFL. If the Colts can’t find a way to shore up their run defense (31st in the league), they could lose yet another decision.

New England

The Colts are going to have a hard time leaving Foxborough with a win. Even if New England has the 32nd worst pass defense, I don’t see the Colts winning a shootout with New England. The Colt’s defense will simply be outmatched with the firepower Tom Brady and the Patriots have on offense. Besides, New England might take pleasure in beating a recent rival who is down.

Baltimore

Double what I just said above. Ravens fans have a deep-seeded hatred for the Indianapolis Colts, who were once the Baltimore Colts. Expect M&T Back Stadium in Baltimore to be rabid as they hope to help their old team to a winless record. The Ravens are better in all phases and should have an easy time getting a win at home.

Don't expect the Colts to get a friendly welcome from the Ravens or their fans.

 

Tennessee

This game starts the stretch of divisional games that will run through the end of the season for the Colts. If the Colts don’t have a win by this point in the season, their spirits won’t be very high. Having already lost at Tennessee this year, chances are slim home field advantage will be able to make up the difference in this match up. The Titans at this point in the season still have a shot at the playoffs. If that is still the case in Week 15, you can bet they will be poised not to let this game get away.

Houston

The Colts may have caught a break in this game (no pun intended) as Matt Schaub may be done for the season with a foot injury. However, Texans fans would probably still like their chances with Arian Foster against the Colts run defense. If the Colts can avoid Schaub and stop the run, this could be a game they could sneak away with.

Jacksonville

Could you imagine the pressure if the Colts are 0-15 going into this game? The Colts fans would be in attendance for what could be a historically bad ending to their season, something Lions fans were spared in 2008. The good news would be, Jacksonville is not a world beater, and if the Colts haven’t packed it in already, they could save themselves in the 11th hour.

So many twists and turns could happen between each week of this outline. Regardless, the tension (and fear from Colts fans) is palpable as Indianapolis travels towards a mark that no one wants to be associated with. If they do achieve this unfortunate record, at least there is a light at the end of the tunnel. They will be getting Peyton Manning back next year, and they will have his successor, Andrew Luck, ready to learn.

October 17, 2011

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Five NFL Trades That Should Happen

By: Anson Whaley

Sure, NFL trades aren’t all that frequent. While we as fans pay strict attention to the MLB, NBA, and NHL trade deadlines, the NFL cutoff date generally comes and goes without much fanfare. Seriously, before this week, did you have any idea that the trade deadline is Tuesday? If you did, the chances are good that you’re probably an agent, a GM, or a player.

That said, there are some moves that should happen – moves that could make teams better in the short or long run. Here are five players that should be moved in exchange for a draft pick.

5. WR Eddie RoyalDenver Broncos to Carolina Panthers: Eddie Royal’s name is one of the most widely heard when the trade deadline comes up. Royal had an extremely productive rookie year in 2008 catching 91 passes for just under 1,000 yards, but since then, has dropped off a bit – particularly with the emergence of other receivers over the years such as Brandon Lloyd and the departed Jabar Gaffney. At 25, though, Royal still should have plenty of productivity left and would make a nice target for rookie Cam Newton in Carolina who could use another wideout.

4. CB Asante SamuelPhiladelphia Eagles to St. Louis Rams: The Rams’ secondary is in need of a major boost. Arguably their top three cornerbacks, Ron Bartell, Jerome Murphy, and Bradley Fletcher, are injured and the team needs to shore up that position. Sure, the Rams aren’t likely to contend this year, but Samuel is only 30 and is still capable of being a contributor for several more seasons. The Eagles’ defense has struggled this season, but mediocre linebacker play has been a big factor in that. And with Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominic Rodgers-Cromartie, the team can afford to move one of their cornerbacks. Trading Samuel to a team such as the New York Giants might make more sense, but I couldn’t see the Eagles allowing him to go to a division rival.

3. RB Joseph AddaiIndianapolis Colts to Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Addai’s had injury issues the past few years, but when healthy, he’s more than capable of being an adequate running back. Tampa Bay may not win the NFC South, but they could have a shot at a Wild Card. Leading rusher LeGarrette Blount is injured, but more than that, the Bucs could use some help in the backfield. Addai is injured himself, so he may not be immediately available himself. But a second back would provide some insurance for the team should one of them go down later in the season. Indianapolis has young running backs Delone Carter and Donald Brown on the roster and can afford to part with Addai at this point as he’s been solid, but unspectacular.

2. WR Brandon Lloyd – Denver Broncos to San Francisco 49ers: Raise your hand if you expected the 49ers to not only get off to a good start this season, but look like one of the league’s better teams at 5-1. Even San Francisco fans were probably hard pressed to expect the team’s hot start. But now that the 49ers appear to be for real, it’s time they add another receiver to the mix. Enter Brandon Lloyd, who had more than 1,400 receiving yards last season with the Broncos. Lloyd is also familiar with the area having played with San Francisco in his first three seasons. He’s a veteran and can provide immediate help to rejuvenated quarterback Alex Smith. Michael Crabtree and Ted Ginn have been serviceable at wide receiver, but adding a steady veteran to the team in Lloyd would go a long way to helping the team not only reach the playoffs, but make some noise once they get there.

1. QB Carson PalmerCincinnati Bengals to Seattle Seahawks: The Carson Palmer/Cincinnati saga hasn’t gone as expected for Palmer, who probably believed he would eventually have his trade request fulfilled. Six games into the season and Palmer is still sitting out while rookie Andy Dalton has taken the reins for the Bengals’ offense. Seriously, though, this is helping no one. Palmer would be better served by being able to play elsewhere and Cincinnati could get something in return for him. A move to Seattle might be ideal for Palmer who could help the Seahawks contend in the mediocre NFC West. He would also be reunited with former USC coach Pete Carroll and is an upgrade over Tarvaris Jackson.

October 3, 2011

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Colts Appear Lost Without Peyton Manning

By: Anson Whaley

Football is often described as the most team-oriented of the major sports. With a total of 22 athletes on the field at the same time, players need to rely on others to do their job more than in any other game. But there are a few players in the NFL that help determine the success of their team a great deal.

One is Peyton Manning.

At 35, Manning is still one of the top quarterbacks in the game. When it was known that he would be out for a while with his neck injury, the Colts went out and brought in veteran Kerry Collins. While Collins has been a serviceable quarterback throughout his career, it’s clear his better days are behind him. Through three games, he’s thrown for only two touchdowns and has completed less than 50% of his passes. And with Collins now out with concussion-like symptoms, the Colts are turning to young backup, Curtis Painter. Both may be capable to a degree, but neither is as qualified as Manning, obviously.

As the Indianapolis Colts sit 0-3 heading into tonight’s Monday night matchup, there’s no question about his importance to the team. With Manning last year, the team was 10-6 and in the playoffs. It’s still early, but at first glance, the playoffs are looking out of reach for this team.

If you need to know just how important Manning is, another indicator besides the record is in the rest of the Indianapolis roster. It doesn’t take long to see there’s clearly talent on the team. There’s Joseph Addai in the backfield, the future Hall of Famer Reggie Wayne at wideout, and defensive playmakers Dwight Freeney, Pat Angerer, Robert Mathis, and Antoine Bethea. The point is that even with considerable talent, the Colts are still failing. Miserably. Yes, the Colts are a year older, but this team is largely the same as it was in 2010 … and that team was 10-6 and reached the postseason. Some dropoff can be expected if an already veteran team gets a year older, but the change in the 2011 version of the Colts is night and day from the 2010 squad.

Manning isn’t simply a good player, he’s a leader. Sure, he can still provide guidance from the sidelines and during practices, but his impact is obviously going to be limited. It’s not the same with him out of the huddle and maybe more importantly, Manning also has to be careful to not encroach into the territory too much since the players need to rely on their current quarterbacks, Kerry Collins and Curtis Painter for leadership. There’s no question that neither has the talent of Manning, but they still need to be able to instill their own types of leadership while on the field – especially because it’s looking more and more like he could be out the entire season.

So the question becomes, “Is the season lost for the Colts?” There’s talk that Manning could potentially be back in December. It’s pretty clear that there would be a certain amount of rust to shake off, but I believe that Manning could be pretty effective with little game action. He’s been playing football long enough that with a bit of practice time, he should ready to go fairly quickly. A December return could give Manning that needed preparation time to get ready for, you guessed it, the playoffs.

The only problem is that the Colts actually need to be in striking distance. Since it’s not known when in December Manning might be ready, let’s assume he gets back by the middle of the month in time for the Colts’ December 18th matchup against the Tennessee Titans. Indianapolis has ten games up to that point and, realistically, probably need to win six of them at the very least. That would put them at 6-7 and with wins in their final three games, would give the Colts a 9-7 record. Of course, with what we’ve seen so far, winning six out of ten is going to be easier said than done – especially considering Indianapolis has some stiff competition over that span with road games against New Orleans, New England, and Baltimore, and a home contest against the Falcons.

And even if Indy is somehow able to win six games, that still means Manning needs to pitch a shutout and win the final three games of the season to get that 9-7 mark. In addition, that assumes that 9-7 is even good enough to get in the playoffs.

When you add it all up, the playoffs are looking like a long shot this season for Peyton and Indy.