Now is the time on the NFL calendar to muse about what might happen in the coming months.
New players have so far only practiced with their teams, and teams that suffered heartbreak the year prior have taken measures to turn things around in the upcoming season.
Both of those things can be said specifically for the Indianapolis Colts. They've got some new faces in critical places, and they've focused all their efforts this offseason on moving past their epic collapse at the end of last year.
Sports Illustrated's Conor Orr has been turning over scenarios in his head and listed 100 predictions across the NFL, and the Colts are heavily represented.
Here are six predictions for the 2022 NFL season that involve the Colts:
8. Matt Ryan will have the best QB rating of all quarterbacks in a new location
Now in Indianapolis eager to prove his wandering-eye franchise wrong, Ryan will showcase a vintage performance, ultimately leading the Colts back into postseason contention.
This may feel like a very specific group in which new Colts quarterback Matt Ryan would stand out, but it's a group that features talents like Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson as well as Carson Wentz, Marcus Mariota, Drew Lock, and whoever wins the Pittsburgh Steelers' job.
Ryan is perhaps set to be rejuvenated as he joins a new club after 14 years as the face of the Atlanta Falcons franchise. He has a new head coach in Frank Reich who's had success with cerebral, detail-oriented quarterbacks like Ryan (see Andrew Luck and Philip Rivers). And while people may discount the Colts' receiving corps, the offense has a deep group of pass-catchers as a whole.
With a quality offensive line in front of him, the league's reigning rushing champion in Jonathan Taylor behind him, and a true No. 1 receiver in Michael Pittman Jr., Ryan should be quite efficient and make big plays based on what the defense gives him. Having some relatively unproven players with high potential like Alec Pierce, Ashton Dulin, Dezmon Patmon, Mike Strachan, Kylen Granson, Jelani Woods, and Drew Ogletree should help as well.
24. Nick Foles isn’t done with his random acts of heroism yet
Football’s Patron Saint is in Indianapolis now and will lead said team to at least one late-game victory when all seems lost.
I'm sure the Colts hope the only scenario they see new backup quarterback Nick Foles play this season is in the fourth quarter of a blowout win, and while it seems unlikely for Ryan to miss time (he's only missed three games in his career; knock on all the wood) the Colts signed Foles to limit the dropoff in the event anything does happen to Ryan.
Let's play along with this, though. Foles still has the late-game heroics in him that he's shown during his career. In his only start for the Chicago Bears last season, he helped deliver one of only six wins for the team on the season, throwing a game-winning touchdown and two-point conversion with a minute left against the Seattle Seahawks. If Foles does have to play for the Colts in crunch time, he's got a backup quarterback's best friends in a strong offensive line, elite run game, pass-catching running backs, and receivers that can win contested catches.
32. Rigoberto Sanchez will finish No. 1 in Pro Football Focus’ punting grades
Special teamers are people, too. Sanchez pinned opponents inside the 20-yard line 24 times a year ago. But the 27-year-old is just getting started.
Rigoberto Sanchez leading the NFL in PFF's punting grade isn't farfetched. In his five seasons, he's finished in the top 10 all but once, including two years inside the top five. At the end of the day, the punt team is all about creating poor field position for the opponent, and Sanchez has done that. In his career, his punts end inside the opponent's 20-yard line 42.1% of the time, he's had three or fewer touchbacks in three of five seasons, and 60.7% of his punts have not been returned.
Sanchez is more of a finesse punter who places the ball where he wants it more than relying on power, and he works very well with his gunners. The Colts put a premium on special teams play, often making talented players inactive on gamedays if they don't contribute on special teams. With Sanchez continuing to do his thing and the Colts making sure his coverage units are as good as possible, he could very well finish as PFF's top punter of 2022.
35. A serious-sounding Andrew Luck rumor will make waves through the NFL for a brief period of time before ultimately going nowhere
With Matt Ryan succeeding, appearing as if he could be a long-term answer, one insider will float a credible-sounding report about the Colts being willing to part with the rights of their former super QB. Luck, however, will remain buried in deep reads on architecture and the Parisian underworld of the early 1900s.
Please, Lord, let's leave this dude alone.
46. The Colts will finish the season top 5 in sacks
Behind the scenes, a pretty attractive pass-rushing unit is being built in Indianapolis. Kwity Paye, Yannick Ngakoue and DeForest Buckner will team with the resurgent Gus Bradley to pester a division stockpiled with young or struggling quarterbacks.
The Colts finished tied for 25th in the NFL in sacks last year with 33. They had six games with one or fewer takedowns, including three of their four games following the bye week. On top of that, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Kemoko Turay, Taylor Stallworth, and Khari Willis accounted for 48.5% of the team's sacks and are no longer on the team. Still, there is reason to believe that the Colts could actually finish among the top five in sacks in 2022.
They should expect further development from defensive ends Kwity Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo, who were their first two picks in the 2021 NFL Draft. Plus, they added one of the NFL's most consistent pass rushers this offseason in Yannick Ngakoue as well as the talented Ifeadi Odenigbo.
The Colts do have some firepower in the pass-rush department, as DeForest Buckner finished ninth among interior linemen in pressures last year (49), Ngakoue was 10th among edge defenders (62), and Paye was fifth among all rookies (39).
New defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and line coach Nate Ollie could be what the Colts need to finally unlock the pass-rush potential of the Colts' front seven.
51. The Carson Wentz playtime incentive will be reached, and …
The Commanders will find a quarterback for 2023 as well. Wentz will finally land in a place that buoys him both schematically and emotionally. While it’s not exactly a fountain of gold, the Commanders will get somewhat stable, top-14-caliber play out of Wentz in ’22.
Back in March, the Colts traded quarterback Carson Wentz and a pair of draft picks to the Washington Commanders in exchange for two draft picks in this year's draft as well as a conditional third-rounder in 2023 that can become a second-rounder if Wentz plays at least 70% of Washington's offensive snaps. Essentially, the third-round picks become a second-round pick if Wentz plays throughout approximately 12 of the Commanders' 17 games.
Barring injury, this should happen; just ask Wentz's backup, Taylor Heinecke. Neither Heinecke nor rookie Sam Howell should put much pressure on Wentz as the starter.
What do you expect from these Colts in 2022? Drop your thoughts below in the comment section!