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NFL power rankings countdown to training camp: Indianapolis Colts, No. 11

For the third year in a row, the Colts will open the season with a new starter under center. How well quarterback Carson Wentz performs will determine more than just the franchise’s outlook.

NFL: Indianapolis Colts OTA Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

At present, the Indianapolis Colts rarely find themselves grouped with the truly elite teams nor with the middle of the pack. Instead, the Colts exist on a tier between the two, the result of a quality roster with a major question at the game’s most important position.

Since Andrew Luck surprisingly retired just before the 2019 season, the Colts have rotated between band aids at quarterback. Jacoby Brissett delivered one competent but mostly forgetting year as the starter with Philip Rivers providing a modest upgrade in 2020. Both have since moved on, leaving Indy with yet another new face under center.

2020 record

11-5, 2nd in AFC South

2020 defense

Points: 22.9 points per game, rank 11th (tied with 2 teams)
Yards: 5.4 yards per play, rank 10th (tied with 2 teams)
Football Outsiders ranking: 7th

2020 offense

Points: 27.9 points per game, rank 8th
Yards: 5.9 yards per play, rank 8th (tied with 1 team)
Football Outsiders ranking: 12th

2021 DraftKings Sportsbook odds

Super Bowl: +2800
AFC/NFC Champion: +1200
DIVISION: +105
Win Total: 10 (Over +115, Under -139)

Offseason moves

With Rivers retiring, the Colts found themselves with a giant hole to fill under center for the second offseason in a row. With few attractive options available in free agency, general manager Chris Ballard instead looked to the trade market, striking a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles for Carson Wentz. Once an MVP candidate at the helm of an eventual Super Bowl champion, Wentz had fallen out of favor in Philly following multiple underwhelming seasons. Still, the quarterback’s talent remained attractive to Indianapolis where Frank Reich, Wentz’s former offensive coordinator, now serves as head coach.

In addition to Wentz taking over at quarterback, the Colts offense will look a little different in the trenches. Longtime starting left tackle Anthony Costanzo retired shortly after the 2020 season, creating an opening on an otherwise strong offensive line. Indianapolis signed Sam Tevi and Eric Fisher to fill that void, with the former likely serving as the Week 1 starter and the latter taking over whenever he receives medical clearance after suffering a ruptured Achilles in January.

Biggest question entering training camp

Whether Reich can coax quality play out of Wentz will determine more than just the Colts’ 2021 prospects. Wentz doesn’t need to perform like an MVP-caliber quarterback to return Indianapolis to the postseason. However, he looked like one of the worst starting signal-callers in the league during his final season in Philadelphia. Wentz has nearly everything needed to thrive in his new home, leaving no excuses if he struggles again.

What needs to happen for the Colts to win the Super Bowl?

The Colts might not need Wentz to play like an MVP again in order to compete for a playoff berth, but they probably do if they hope to contend for the Super Bowl this season. The Colts have a stellar offensive line, quality skill-position players, and a capable defense. All they lack is stability under center. If Wentz can turn back the clock and provide Indy with top-shelf play, the team can challenge anyone in the AFC.

2021 Outlook

Wentz probably won’t perform as he did during his breakout 2017 season, but he almost can’t play much worse than he did last year. Paired with Reich again, Wentz has a decent shot at becoming an above-average quarterback again, and that should prove enough to secure the Colts a playoff berth or even an AFC South title.