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Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Too early to evaluate these Colts

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It’s way too easy to get caught up in hype that surrounds professional sports, and there’s always an “expert” to tell you just how good your hometown team really is. Case and point with your Indianapolis Colts.

After losing their season-opening contest at Jacksonville (as predicted by yours truly), they have now roughed up two straight lackluster opponents in the friendly confines of their home turf, causing one local media outlet to proclaim the team had just demonstrated the blueprint for a coveted Super Bowl run. 

After seeing that, I took a deep breath, collected my thoughts and came up with some specific reasons Colts fans shouldn’t make those reservations for Tampa Bay on Feb. 7, 2021, just yet.

After all, it’s about who you play in the NFL, and we really can’t crown the good men who don the horseshoe each week as kings for simply taking care of business and bullying the likes of the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Jets.

Granted, it hasn’t been all that long ago when they were losing games they should win, both at home and on the road, so I can understand the elation some of you may have at this early juncture.

Before deciding what the championship parade route through downtown Indianapolis will be, let’s take a glance of their upcoming schedule for the next eight weeks and what it means in terms of a true evaluation of this year’s squad. The Colts hit the road these next two weeks to play a solid Chicago Bears team and then on to face the improved Cleveland Browns. The key phrase here is “road trip,” and while life on the NFL road is never easy, this is a wakeup call.

After those two contests, they head back home to meet the Cincinnati Bengals. Easy, right? Uh, no it will not be, as the Bengals have shown the ability to throw the football, which has been the Achilles’ heel of the Colts defense for some time. Life on the road again rears its head the following week as Indianapolis visits the Detroit Lions, who clearly are their usual mess. Yes, the Colts should prevail, but nothing on the road is an automatic, regardless of how inept your opponent is, and the Lions did beat Arizona on the road recently.

After the Lions, Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens come calling to Lucas Oil Stadium, followed by a trip to Tennessee, then a visit from Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, and a second match-up with the Titans. That will conclude the 11th week of the regular season, and by then we should have a clear idea of just what is under the hood of the Colts-mobile.

Sure, they just might surprise you and run the table through most of the aforementioned games, but they could also self-destruct along the way. My point is until we witness a consistent execution of playmaking on both sides of the football, all we can do is speculate.

Throw in the inevitable injuries that are part of this game, and things get even more complicated. Depth is not abundant on this team, and ultimately that may be a huge factor in terms of stringing together a winning streak.

Can this team meet or exceed some of the rather lofty expectations placed upon them is the real question, and I’m not convinced they can. I predicted an 8-8 mark before the season began, and many of you reached out via email and called me everything from a hater to an idiot. Those reactions aside, we have no idea how good this Colts team is after three games, but the next eight will certainly tell us.

In the interim, enjoy the games, and if they become world beaters, then please remind me how wrong I was with my handicapping.

If I’m right, you don’t have to send me an email telling me I’m insane; just remember I told you three games against subpar competition is too small of a sample size to evaluate your team.

Extra point: You can watch the Colts take on the Chicago Bears at 1 p.m. Oct. 4 on CBS. You can also turn down the volume on your television and listen to the radio broadcast (my preference) with Matt Taylor and Rick Venturi on the call at 107.5 FM. 

Danny Bridges, who greatly appreciates all the precautions the Colts have taken to keep him safe in the press box during these challenging environmental times, can be reached at 317-370-8447 or at bridgeshd@aol.com.

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