It would be understandable to write the Indianapolis Colts off at 1-4 as true contenders in the NFL, but one NFL.com analyst preaches caution in doing that.
Bucky Brooks, a former NFL defensive back and current scout and analyst for NFL.com and FOX Sports, listed the Colts as one of four "sneaky contenders" in the NFL despite a slow start.
At 1-4, the Colts are just one game out of the cellar in the AFC South, yet Brooks still believes in the current version of the Colts, who are dealing with key injuries to star left guard Quenton Nelson and standout right tackle Braden Smith along the offensive line, not to mention a banged up secondary on the defensive side of the football.
Brooks listed the Colts with the Chicago Bears, Pittsburgh Steelers and Carolina Panthers as his four sneaky contender candidates in the NFL who are off to slow starts.
Here's what the NFL.com analyst had to say about the Colts' chances moving forward:
I know a 1-4 record has the Colts positioned near the cellar in the AFC South, but pay attention to how Frank Reich's squad is playing. The team is coming off an overtime loss in Baltimore that showed the offense's potential with Carson Wentz at the helm. If the running game picks up steam and the defense plays the run like it has the last couple weeks, the Colts could get hot down the stretch and sneak into the playoffs.
It's hard to dispute anything Brooks said about the Colts despite the 1-4 start. Yes, the record looks very ugly, and yes the collapse to the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth quarter of Monday night's game was as bad as it gets, but there's plenty to feel good about with this team.
The offense is very clearly making strides through the air and on the ground, and a banged-up offensive line is going to get healthy here in a few weeks and should return to one of the better groups in football once again.
The defense has to figure it out though. The pass rush has been nonexistent, and the secondary has really struggled overall, allowing far too many big plays through the air.
Indianapolis's schedule looks pretty daunting in the next month or so with the San Francisco 49ers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tennessee Titans still on deck, but aside from a Christmas Day matchup with the Arizona Cardinals things shape up well down the stretch for the Colts, who will face the Texans one more time, the Jacksonville Jaguars twice, as well as the New England Patriots, Las Vegas Raiders and New York Jets.
That stretch could allow the Colts to get hot and get back into the race, health permitting.
Have thoughts on Bucky Brooks listing the Colts as a sneaky contender? Drop a line in the comments section below letting us know how you feel!