Colts Power Rankings: 2011 Preseason

Each week, Coltzilla will scour the net for team rankings from football experts covering the previous week, and discuss them from the fan’s perspective. With the Colts facing the 2011 season without their MVP quarterback at the helm, fan expectations are low. What about the experts? Let’s see what they have to say in their preseason analysis.

Average Ranking: 11.13

CBS Sports – Pete Prisco – 12th: They’re here because I believe Peyton Manning will now miss time. That’s unreal to even type. If he misses a lot of time, they will be way down this list. Kerry Collins can’t cut it for more than a game or two. – [It's pretty hard to argue with anything Pete says here, although I for one believe Collins to be better than people are giving him credit for. Still, I too am having trouble wrapping my head around the phrase 'Peyton Manning will now miss time'. For the first time since Manning joined the Colts, fans will see exactly the level of talent he's been working with. Are they good enough to stand on their own? We'll find out on Sunday, and possibly well beyond that.]

Cold Hard Football Facts – 12th: Operation Sign Peyton is in full swing; other than that, it’s business as usual – and business is always good in Indy. The Cold, Hard Football Facts: No one from the Colts’ last four draft classes has made a Pro Bowl. – [It's not clear how up-to-date CFF's comments are. With no mention of Manning missing time, their 12th ranking may assume that 18 plays. The fact that no Indy draft pick from the past four years has made a Pro Bowl is, however, quite clear... and telling. With players like Anthony Gonzalez and Austin Collie missing significant time due to injury and other players such as Donald Brown, Tony Ugoh, and Jerry Hughes failing to impress, we are left to question the front office's ability to field a team of quality players. It may have been true in the past, but business isn't looking so good in Indy these days.]

ESPN – Kuharsky – 9th: When does Peyton Manning play, and how well can he do at the start of his season? (Kuharsky) – [Good questions, Paul. Only time will tell. One thing that IS clear is the importance the experts place on Manning when discussing his value to this team. When Tom Brady went down in the first game of the 2008 season, the Patriots went on to an 11-win season. Can the Colts do the same without their star quarterback? The experts don't seem to think so.]

Fox Sports – 13th: I’m totally on the fence with the Colts. With Peyton Manning, they will contend as usual. Without him, they are likely a sub-.500 team. Their early schedule will present a problem to a less-than-100 percent healthy Manning. – [The makeup of the Colts' 2011 schedule will make their normal quick start very difficult. Houston, Pittsburgh, and Tampa Bay represent three of their first four opponents. Even if Manning returns sooner rather than later, the Colts could find themselves in a hole early on. But as Coltzilla's Brett Mock reports, this year’s schedule is almost tailor-made to survive a short-term Manning recovery period. Five of their six AFC South games come late in the year. This may make it possible for a Manning-led Colts to win the South.]

Walter Football – 9th: I really don’t feel like talking about Peyton Manning right now. I just had a fantasy draft where one of my friends was screwed out of a quarterback; one guy took Philip Rivers and Manning, so because of that, my friend has Jay Cutler as his starter. Throughout the entire second half of the draft, he kept asking me, “Do you think I should trade Mike Wallace for Peyton? What about Anquan Boldin and Mark Ingram? What about Malcom Floyd and Mike Wallace? What about Neil Rackers?” Like I said, I don’t want to discuss Manning. 2011 NFL Projected Record: 10-6 – [Talking about Manning is just about all Colts fans have been doing for the past few weeks... and it hasn't been pleasant. The prospect of the best quarterback in the league missing significant time this year has most of us downright depressed. So I agree... let's not talk about Manning. Let's talk about their projected 10-6 record. Funny how 10-6 suddenly sounds pretty darned good.]

WEEI in Boston – 9th: Bill Polian knows the Colts’ success relies upon the health of Peyton Manning. That’s why Indy added two offensive linemen with its first two draft picks. However, Manning will need more than just protection if he wants to lead his team to its 10th straight season with double-digit wins. The run game has been extremely inconsistent, and the Colts will need Joseph Addai to stay healthy and produce. – [The folks at WEEI correctly state the important role Joe Addai and the other Colts running backs will play this season... especially if Manning misses more than Week 1. This year's crop of backs looks promising; perhaps more so than they have in many years. If only points were awarded for potential.]

Yahoo Sports – 15th: If Peyton Manning was healthy, the Colts would be in the Top 8. Now, with Manning out for the opener, things could get hairy in a hurry. Kerry Collins will have limited success and the Colts running game isn’t exactly intimidating. It might be time to hit the panic button in Indy. – [Panic button? Won't help. Indy's panic button rings directly into Peyton Manning's helmet. Although he's come through for us when we've pressed it in the past, he's just not able to answer this time.]

Sports Illustrated – Don Banks – 10th: Here’s how long it has been since we’ve seen a meaningful Colts game without Peyton Manning under center at the start of things: Jim Harbaugh, the new head coach in San Francisco, was the quarterback for Indy on Dec. 21, 1997, a 39-28 season-ending Colts loss at Minnesota. Marshall Faulk, in his pre-St. Louis incarnation, was in the Indianapolis backfield, Randall Cunningham started at quarterback for the Vikings, and the ancient Eddie Murray kicked for Minnesota. If that doesn’t scream eons ago, you’re not paying attention. – [With so many unanswered questions about Manning's availability, I appreciated Don's brief reminder that we've been witnessing something very special. He didn't say it, so I will; Peyton Manning is extraordinary in his dedication, execution, and understanding of the game of football. Few have impacted the game like Manning has, and we've been fortunate to witness it first-hand.]

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