Super Bowl or Bust for the Colts?

Written By: Logan Hancock| @Logan_Hancock
Member of Ball State Sports LinkSuper_Bowl_50_logo

February 4, 2007 (Super Bowl XLI). Confetti mixed with rain is falling down at Sun Life stadium in Miami, Florida. The final scoreboard reads Indianapolis Colts-29, Chicago Bears-17.

It’s official, the Indianapolis Colts are Super Bowl XLI champions. Peyton Manning and the rest of the Indianapolis Colts team are hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, standing victorious at the pinnacle of the football world.

Andrew Luck congratulates quarterback Tom Brady after the New England Patriots dominated the Colts 45-7 in the 2015 AFC Championship playoff game.

January 18, 2015 (AFC Championship). Andrew Luck and the rest of the Indianapolis Colts walk off the field in disbelief at Gillette stadium in Foxborough, Mass. They have just been thoroughly defeated 45-7 by their long time arch nemesis, the New England Patriots.

So close, yet so far.

Fast forward to present day. It is officially the fourth year of a new era for the Indianapolis Colts organization and Colts fans everywhere.

Over eight years have passed since the Colts last tasted football glory. The 2006-07 team is all but gone. Adam Vinatieri and Robert Mathis are the only two players from the Super Bowl squad that remain.

With a new era comes new expectations. For the first time in eight years, Colts fans everywhere can get a whiff of potential Super Bowl glory once again.

The “new” Indianapolis Colts are now led by budding superstar quarterback Andrew Luck, who has filled Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning’s very large shoes quite well.

In large part due to Luck’s excellent play and progression, the Colts find themselves 9-to-1 Super Bowl favorites according to Vegas odds going into this season. They have also been picked by many sports media outlets, including ESPN the Magazine and USA Today, to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.

The term “Super Bowl or bust” is now officially in play this season.

Andrew Luck tosses a touchdown pass against the Bengals in last year’s playoffs. The Colts won the game 26-10.

Luck has advanced one further round in the playoffs every season since he was drafted No. 1 overall by the Colts back in 2012. His first season he led the Colts to a first-round loss against the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs.

In his second season, Luck led the Colts to the divisional round of the playoffs, but fell short against the New England Patriots. Finally, his third season he led the Colts to the AFC Championship game, but again came up much too short as the Patriots embarrassed the Colts, 45-7.

Luck has also progressed statistically by increasing his passing yards, and touchdowns each season of his career. The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback passed for a franchise record 4,761 yards, and also led the NFL last season with 40 passing touchdowns.

According to recent history, stats, and even destiny (if you believe in that sort of thing) this simply has to be the season Luck is supposed to lead his Colts to the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl or bust.

TY Hilton and off-season addition Andre Johnson putting in work during training camp in Anderson, Indiana.

The Colts have without a doubt the most talented roster since the memorable Super Bowl run in 2006. After leading the league in passing offense last year, it is hard to imagine that the Colts could get any better through the air.

However, they have done just that. ranked the Colts as the most improved receiving corps in the league this past off-season. The Colts were already the best passing offense in the league before this off-season.

Now, the sky — rather the moon — is the limit for this offense. With the addition of seven-time pro-bowl wide receiver Andre Johnson, and the addition of the lightning fast (4.3 40-yard dash) young rookie wide-receiver Phillip Dorsett, Andrew Luck has more weapons than ever before.

TY Hilton is coming off of a career Pro Bowl breakout type season, posting 82 catches, 1345 yards and seven touchdowns. The torch has officially been passed by longtime former Colts “legend” Reggie Wayne to Hilton, who is now the Colts undisputed No. 1 receiver.

Hilton also recently signed a five-year long term deal to stay in Indy. Luck to Hilton could become the next “Manning to Harrison” type dynamic duo of the NFL.

5 time pro-bowl running back Frank Gore was an exciting addition to the Colts offense this off-season. Gore spent his previous 10 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers.

On top of all the receiving additions, the Colts also picked up five-time Pro Bowl running back Frank Gore, who has rushed for eight-straight 1,000 yard seasons. Gore’s addition should help take some of the load off of Luck.

After the Trent Richardson project failed miserably, the Colts may finally have a running back to rely on. Gore has been a standout professional in the NFL throughout his 10 years with the San Francisco 49ers as both a pass blocker and rusher.

Offensively, the Colts will without a doubt (if statistics don’t lie) be able to outscore any team in the National Football League this upcoming season.

As fantastic as the Colts’ offense was last season, the defense did not quite live up to the hype.

There is no denying that the Colts defense most definitely had some standout performances last season (shutting out the Bengals) as well as standout individual play (Vontae Davis, Mike Adams, D’Qwell Jackson).

However, the unit as a whole was often decimated against some of the better teams in the AFC.

Pro-bowl cornerback, Vontae Davis, breaks up a pass against the Denver Broncos in last year’s playoffs. The Colts won the game 24-13.

The defensive unit gave up a whopping 51 points to the Pittsburgh Steelers as Ben Roethlisberger racked up 522 yards and six touchdowns. You don’t have to be an NFL expert to know that giving up that many yards and touchdowns is not good. They also gave up 42 points to the New England Patriots at home in the regular season (45 points in the playoffs) and allowed “no name” running back Jonas Gray to rack up over 200 yards and couple of touchdowns.

The Colts defense was just plain lousy at certain times last season.

In hopes of strengthening the “weakest link” of the team, this off-season the Colts added veteran all-pro pass rusher Trent Cole to lineup on the other side of long time all-pro defensive end Robert Mathis. Mathis, coming back this season off of his ACL injury, should provide the pass rush it desperately lacked last season.

The Colts also added Kendall Langford from the St. Louis Rams (6-foot-6, 313 lbs.) to clog up the defensive line and stuff opponents running backs in their tracks.

If Davis keeps up his “Pro Bowl level” play from last season, and the rest of the defense can at least be “average” this season, the offense will be able to put up enough points to help out the defense when they do have bad days.

Patriots tight-end Rob Gronkowski dives into the end-zone for a touchdown against the Colts at Lucas Oil stadium last season in Indianapolis. The Patriots went on to win the game 42-20.

On paper there is no team in the AFC division that should be able to compete with the Indianapolis Colts this season (other than the always in the mix New England Patriots).

However, we all know the NFL is a “any given Sunday” type atmosphere. Any team can beat any team on any given day.

Yes, that’s cliche. The Colts still have to take care of business.

In particular, the most important game of the upcoming season is arguably the Oct.18 matchup against the Patriots. The Colts need to prove to themselves as a team — and to the rest of the league — they can finally get over the “hump” and beat their arch rivals.

Luck is 0-4, including the playoffs, against the daunting Pats. Luck and the rest of this Colts team need to exercise their demons.

I truly have not been more excited for an NFL season in a long time. I believe the Colts will finally taste Super Bowl glory once again.  I know many others share my opinion. The time is now.

Super Bowl or bust.

Get ready for a wild ride Colts Nation. The 2015-16 Indianapolis Colts are going to be “Super.”

What are your predictions for the Colts this season? Let us know in the comments below!