Colts Hope New Scenery Rejuvenates Star Quarterback
The 2020 season was bizarre, to say the least for most NFL teams, the Indianapolis Colts can attest to that. The season started off with an embarrassing loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in NFL Week 1 which ultimately cost them a division championship. Indianapolis regrouped to win 11 games before giving Buffalo all it could handle in the AFC Wildcard game.
Despite not having a 1,000-yard receiver, Phillip Rivers threw for over 4,000 yards last season in leading the offense. With Rivers’ retirement, the Colts rolled the dice with Carson Wentz this offseason.
According to BetUS, one of the Top Sportsbooks at Online Betting Sports, the Over/Under for wins this season has been set at 9. Bettors taking the Over will receive even-money odds, while those taking the Under will have odds of -130.
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Can Wentz Regain MVP-Caliber Form?
Both the Colts and the former No. 2 overall pick are hoping a change of scenery is just what the doctor ordered. Wentz had a season worth forgetting last year as he finished with 2,620 yards and 16 touchdowns to go along with 15 interceptions. He ultimately lost his starting job to rookie Jalen Hurts which all but ended his tenure in Philly.
With a familiar face in head coach Frank Reich and plenty of weapons around him, Wentz has the potential for a big bounce-back season. That is if he can stay on the field. After an injury scare at the beginning of training camp, Wentz has now been placed on the COVID list but is still hopeful to make his Colts debut in NFL Week 1.
More Bounce Backs?
Wentz is not the only player the Colts are counting on to have bounce-back seasons. Top receiver TY Hilton produced just 762 yards and five touchdowns last season. The team is hoping the dynamic playmaker can return to his Pro Bowl form where he had 1,100-plus yards in four of five seasons before the 2019 season.
Marlon Mack also returns to the Colts’ backfield this year after going down with a season-ending injury in NFL Week 1 last year.
Other Key Players
The running game will be crucial once again this season and it will be led by Jonathan Taylor. The former Wisconsin star gained 1,169 yards with 11 scores last season.
With Nyheim Hines out of the picture, Jordan Wilkins will also battle for reps out of the backfield.
Michael Pittman and Zach Pascal will be key targets for Wentz, while Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox will be the top tight ends for Wentz.
Tough Open Slate of Games
After a perfect 3-0 preseason, the Colts open the regular season at home against Seattle. According to MyBookie, another one of the top sportsbooks at Online Betting Sports, the Colts opened as a slight favorite at home, but now Seattle is a 2-point favorite. The status of Wentz will likely play a key factor in where this line falls come NFL Week 1.
It does not get much easier in NFL Week 2 as Indianapolis hosts the Los Angeles Rams in NFL Week 2 before traveling to Tennessee and Miami in NFL Weeks 3 and 4, respectively.
Continuing the arduous task out of the gate, the Colts travel to Baltimore in NFL Week 5.
A 3-2 start to the season would not be the end of the world for the Colts hope this season.
Other Marquee Matchups
Indianapolis travels to San Francisco in NFL Week 7 before hosting the Titans in NFL Week 8. NFL Week 11 has the Colts on the road to Buffalo before hosting the defending Super Bowl champs and old nemesis, Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in NFL Week 12.
Bill Belichick and the Patriots make a trip to Lucas Oil in NFL Week 15 before the Colts head to Arizona in Week 16.
According to BetOnline, the Colts’ odds of winning the AFC South are +160. Tennessee is the favorite to repeat as divisional champs with -120 odds.
Getting to the projected nine wins may be a tough task with the uncertainty of Wentz coupled with all of the tough games on the road. But a defense led by DeForest Buckner, Darius Leonard, and rookie Kwity Payne may just help propel the Colts into double-digit wins. But it may not be enough to win their first AFC South title since 2014.
Final 2021-22 Season Record: 10-6, 2nd in AFC South.