2019 NFL Power Rankings:
No. 22 Indianapolis Colts
I never planned on writing about the Colts this early. Honestly, never thought they’d be anything other than a top-10 ballclub. Before the third game of the preseason, everything seemed rather sweet. Ya, Andrew Luck was recovering from an injury, but it didn't seem like something that would linger into the regular season. At least that wasn't the word coming out of Indianapolis at the moment. As I watched the Miami vs. Florida game while simultaneously shit-talking my fantasy football pals in my group message, a strange alert hit the chat from the homie DB. I felt like Bushwick Bill (R.I.P.) because my eyes must've been playing tricks on me. No way had I just read that perennial Pro Bowler Andrew Luck retired. After quickly dismissing the idea, more texts rang in. One from my bro, Dallas. Another Marley. Daffy even joined the conversation to share his two cents. Then reality set. The game would be losing one of its greats before the age of 30.
Before I preview Indianapolis for the 2019, I'd like to share a sponsored message from the good folks at 4MP. Athletes are humans. They are no different than you and I. They go to the restroom just like everyone else. They participate in society and the political process, just like everyone else. And most importantly, they have feelings just like everyone else. As a fan, I understand the feelings of betrayal that comes with watching your team lose its star right before the season starts. That doesn't give fans the right to boo. Football takes a physical and mental toll on its employees that few outside the spectrum of sports can fathom. In an industry where your body is your greatest asset, athletes deal with powers that may not be in their control. Injuries discriminate against no one. Nobody wants to spend the majority of their careers rehabbing. Those aches and pains don’t disappear. It’s really some death-do-us-part shit. Seen the toll the game has taken on people, including myself (three knee surgeries) and it isn't pretty. Hopefully, as a society, we change the narrative and humanize athletes.
Jacoby Brissett isn't bad. He's a better thrower of the football than the Cowboys' Dak Prescott -- lol at anything north of $30 mil annually. Not only does Brissett possess the arm talent to lead Indy's offense, but he's also been here before. In 2017 -- the year Luck sat out with a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder -- Brissett started 15 of 16 games in which he played, totaled 3,098 passing yards and led the undermanned Colts to four victories. Trust me, there are much worse backup situations.
Now, Brissett isn’t alone by any means.The offensive line paved the way for nine games with at least 100 rushing yards and allowed a league-best 18 sacks in 2018. Marlon Mack is the real deal at running back and is due for his first campaign with at least 1,000 rushing yards. And Chris Ballard did an excellent job adding weapons to the passing game, bringing in a red-zone threat to complement T.Y. Hilton in Devin Funchess and a home run hitter in second-round pick Parris Campbell. The cabinet is full. We have to see what young Jacoby does with all the fine china.
Despite the youth of the Colts' defense, the unit overachieved in 2018. Defensive Rookie of the Year Darius Leonard spearheaded a unit that finished in the top-10 against the run (101.6) and points allowed (21.3). He'll be joined by Pro Bowl pass rusher Justin Houston, ballhawk Malik Hooker and Kenny Moore, whose rags to riches story highlighted the offseason. If the defense can continue suffocating its opponents, there's a chance Indianapolis sneaks back into the playoffs. Don't count on it.
Offensive Players to Watch: Jacoby Brissett, Nyheim Hines, Mo Allie-Cox, Parris Campbell.
Defensive Players to Watch: Jabaal Sheard, Kenny Moore II, Malik Hooker
Fantasy Players to Watch: Marlon Mack, Parris Campbell (late rounds), Jack Doyle
Verdict: The story here is the retirement of Andrew Luck. We’re going to see more players follow in his path by leaving the game in their prime. The physical and mental toll, just might be too much. 7-9.