The Indianapolis Colts were blindsided by the shocking news of Andrew Luck’s retirement last season, but still were resilient enough to lead the AFC South after 10 games before collapsing down the stretch. Indianapolis decided a change was needed at the quarterback position, signing Philip Rivers to a one-year deal in an opportunity to overtake the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans in the division.
While adding Rivers is a gamble for the Colts, Indianapolis still has a talented roster and an underrated coach in Frank Reich. Can the Colts find their way back into the playoffs after a one-year hiatus? Does Rivers have enough left in the tank to keep Indianapolis competitive? Are there enough weapons for Indianapolis on offense to make a playoff run?
The Colts decided to go “all in” with Rivers, hoping he recaptures the form that earned him three consecutive Pro Bowls from 2016 to 2018. Will this calculated risk pay off or will this team have to start from square one at the quarterback position after the season.
These questions will be answered soon, but let’s look into the crystal ball and predict the Colts’ 2020 outcome. Here are three bold predictions impacting the Colts’ 2020 season:
1. Philip Rivers throws over 30 touchdown passes
The Colts took $25 million of their ridiculous amount of cap space this offseason and put it into Rivers, who had a poor interception percentage of 3.4 last season — which had plenty to do with the Los Angeles Chargers moving on from him in the first place. Indianapolis believed the 38-year-old Rivers still has some gas left in the tank, bringing him in to replace Jacoby Brissett at quarterback.
While there could be a quarterback replacement at some point in 2020, Rivers will make sure that doesn’t happen. Having a much better offensive line than the one in Los Angeles over the past few seasons and a legitimate running back tandem in Marlon Mack and Jonathan Taylor, Rivers will have a resurgence with the Colts. What will also help Rivers is Reich was his quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator with the Chargers while offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni was also his quarterbacks coach in San Diego, so there’s plenty of familiarity with the scheme.
Rivers has all the tools needed for his second 30+ touchdown season in three years. He’s not finished yet.
2. Indianapolis has a top-three rushing offense
This may be a bit of a stretch, but the Colts did finish seventh in rushing yards (and tied for 10th in rushing touchdowns) last season with Marlon Mack, Jordan Wilkins and Jonathan Williams carrying the load last year. Mack was already a 1,000-yard rusher last season and the Colts decided to add Jonathan Taylor in the draft, making the run game even more formidable. Their 4.5 yards per carry average with a journeyman back in Williams and an unproven commodity in Wilkins shows how good the Colts offensive line was in run blocking last season.
The running game is going to be better with Mack and Taylor splitting the carries behind that offensive line, especially since Indianapolis is committed to running the football. Indianapolis has enough depth at running back behind the top two backs with Wilkins and Nyheim Hines to make this happen.
3. The Colts take the seventh and final playoff spot in the AFC
Predicting the seventh seed in the AFC is difficult, especially since this is the first season seven teams from each conference will make the playoffs. Let’s assume the teams that are locks for the AFC playoffs are the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens, along with whoever wins the AFC East and AFC South (based on this prediction, it won’t be Indianapolis). That leaves three playoff spots up for grabs, one which the Colts are equipped to take.
Indianapolis finished with the 30th-ranked pass offense last season, which was an Achilles heel of their team. That should immediately improve with Rivers and the array of weapons he has at his disposal, giving the Colts the scoring punch they need to keep up with the other playoff teams (and hoping the defense improves with the addition of DeForest Buckner).
The Colts also have a decent schedule playing the AFC North and NFC North in the rotation, which possesses some bad teams that should get them an extra win or two — not forgetting the Jacksonville Jaguars are in their division. A 9-7 record should be enough to give Indianapolis the final playoff spot in the AFC, with the swing games being the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns. A 2-0 record against those teams should lock up a playoff spot for Indianapolis regardless.