The Indianapolis Colts are rearing to get things going in the 2022 season. The sooner they get on the field and kick things off this year, the quicker they can forget about and put the 2021 campaign behind them.
Last season was a roller coaster ride for the franchise, as they started the season 1-4 before going on a hot streak, going 8-2 over the next 10 games. That put them in a position to make the postseason, but those hopes came crashing down when the team ended the season with losses to the Las Vegas Raider and Jacksonville Jaguars.
An excellent middle part of the season was sandwiched between a disastrous start and finish, which ultimately cost the team. But, with the changes that were made in the offseason, the Colts are ready to compete not only for a playoff spot but an AFC South title as well.
Their quest to achieve that will begin with a divisional matchup as Indianapolis will be heading on the road to take on the Houston Texans in Week 1. What can we expect from the Colts in their first game of the season? Here are three bold predictions for them in their first game of the season.
3. Jonathan Taylor Picks Up Where He Left Off
Jonathan Taylor had a 2021 season for the ages. He led the NFL in rushing attempts, rushing yards and touchdowns, carrying the ball 332 times for 1,811 yards and 18 touchdowns. He was 8th in the league averaging 5.5 yards per carry as defenses just didn’t have an answer for him.
Taylor appeared in all 17 games last season, rushing for over 100 yards 10 times. Two of those instances came against the Houston Texans, who will likely be in the running as the worst team in the NFL this season.
There is no reason to believe that Taylor won’t once again steamroll the Texans, as he should pick right up where he left off last season. In two games against Houston in 2021, Taylor rushed for 288 yards on 46 carries, scoring four touchdowns.
In Week 1, he will be among the most productive running backs, rushing for at least 150 yards with two more scores. For good measure, he will add at least 20 receiving yards as well.
2. Shaquille Leonard Gets His Feet Wet
One of the biggest storylines surrounding the Colts this offseason was the status of their All-Pro linebacker, Shaquille Leonard. Leonard underwent surgery on his back in June and his status for the beginning of the season was in question.
However, on Tuesday, which was cutdown day in the NFL, Leonard was removed from the active/physically unable to perform list. While he is not yet in the clear about playing in Week 1, this is a step in the right direction.
Had Leonard remained on the list beyond Tuesday, he would have reverted to the PUP list and been sidelined at least the first four weeks of the season. Instead, he will now be able to practice and get up to speed.
While he won’t play a full allotment of snaps, he will be on the field in Week 1 against the Houston Texans. Leonard will play in about half of the team’s defensive snaps, working his way back into game shape after not being involved much in the summer.
1. Matt Ryan Quickly Erases Memory of Carson Wentz
The biggest move that the Colts made this offseason was acquiring Matt Ryan in a trade from the Atlanta Falcons. The Carson Wentz experiment did not go as well as hoped, as he was traded to the Washington Commanders after one season with the team.
Ryan will be the fifth different quarterback under center for Indianapolis in the last five seasons, but he will quickly make people forget about Wentz. Ryan was brought in to help elevate the offense and team as a whole and that is exactly what he will do.
Heading into his 15th season in the NFL, Ryan will provide the Colts with some stability at the quarterback position. He will have a big debut with the team, throwing for at least 275 yards and two touchdowns.
Indianapolis will win the game in a rout behind the arm of Ryan and legs of Jonathan Taylor. The Colts will be 1-0 come Monday, defeating the Texans 31-14.