Nov 20, 2011; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen (69) carries a United States flag onto the field before the game against the Oakland Raiders at the Mall of America Field. The Raiders defeated the Vikings 27-21. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

AFC South Exposed: The Indianapolis Colts Are Screwed

Forget the fact that the Colts no longer have Peyton.  Forget that they’ve lost leadership like Jeff Saturday (Packers).  The Colts have a ton of potential in the 2012 season.  Yes, you read that right.  The Colts may actually have a shot this year.  A shot to make a statement, to show that they’ll be back to high quality form.  They still have Reggie Wayne, they’re going to have a superb quarterback prospect, and Robert Mathis is still with the team.

We'll see how much you're dancing later in the year. Source: Matt Stamey-US PRESSWIRE

They’re much closer to a comeback than is commonly thought, mark my words.

But then the schedule came out.  Tennessee is geting the attention for having a rough beginning, but they’re a more complete team, they’ll be fine.  The Colts are going to be flat out abused by the opposition, and they should be.  If I am the Bears, Vikings, and Jags I am going to punish Andrew Luck at every opportunity.

The Bears are a playoff caliber team.  In fact, they’re a Superbowl caliber team.  I’ve said it for ages and will continue to say it over and over again until Jay Cutler gets injured (again).  On top of that, they have a superb defense.  One of the most underrated defensive lines in football boasts Julius Peppers (11 sacks in 2011) and Israel Idonije whose five sacks do not do him justice.  The Bears defense will make Andrew Luck wish he never declared for the draft.  Half the reason Peyton was so rarely sacked was because of his experience and quick release.  Luck won’t get a chance to develop at game speed from his back.

Seriously, this guy is insane! Source: Bruce Kluckhohn-US PRESSWIRE

The Vikings take the next jab at the Colts.  You can bet that Jared Allen and Co. will try to abuse Andrew Luck.  Based on the first game (which I fully anticipate to be a whipping of Indy), the Colts may try to run the ball more.  The Colts haven’t fielded a 1,000 yard rusher since 2007.  That isn’t just a testament to how much the offense was channeled through Peyton Manning, or how poor the running backs were, it’s about how poor the offensive line is.  The team will be starting a new center with the departure of Jeff Saturday and the line never was that good, Manning just made them look good.  Jared Allen will get off to a good start trying to beat his 22 sacks in 2011 by going after an inexperienced quarterback with little running help and an offensive line that acts more like a permeable membrane.

And if those two games don’t make Luck want to hang up the cleats, the Colts get the Jags in week three.

The Jaguars are going to be hungry to prove that they made the right decisions over the offseason.  While not fielding unbelievable pass rushing talents like the Vikings or Bears, Jeremy Mincey should be establishing himself as a top threat and whoever is starting opposite him (A rookie?  Aaron Kampman?) will help him establish himself as such.  Not to mention that the Jaguars have a more complete defense than the Colts’ first two opponents.  The 6th ranked defense from a year ago will get itself going quickly with a dominant performance over the already abused Colts.

Fortunately the Colts have their bye week in week four.  Unfortunately that means there are no breaks for the rest of the season.  Even more unfortunately, they open week five against the Packers.  Even if they have any hope later in the season, they finish with two of their final three games against Houston which should squash any comeback hopes late in the season.

I sincerely hope the Colts begin to develop into an NFL threat again, but I just don’t see it happening this season.  The institutions of the defenses that they face at the beginning may just be too demoralizing for the team to come back from at any point in the season.  Jared Allen, Julius Peppers, and the solid front 3/4ths of the Jags defense will make it a tought go of it all season.

I do see two wins against the Browns and Dolphins in weeks seven and nine.  The Colts just need to keep those games in their mind.

- Luke N. Sims

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Tags: 2012 NFL Schedule Andrew Luck Chicago Bears Indianapolis Colts Jacksonville Jaguars Jared Allen Julius Peppers Minnesota Vikings Reggie Wayne

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