Day 7 of my NFL countdown kicks off with my number 8 team, the Indianapolis Colts.
I want to start off right away and tell all the Colts fans to chill out about Andrew Luck's health right now. Last year, right around this same time, he couldn't throw anything except a Nerf football. Then when the season started, he went on to have a great year, and the Colts were back in the playoffs. I'm sure whatever this calf injury is right now will be fine. Also, remember how good the Colts were last year? It was supposed to be a down year. They were supposed to be bad again. They had Josh McDaniels flake on them, then had to hurry to hire Frank Reich. And all of that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Luck came back, and as I said, was great. They found a platoon run game that worked for them. They got shifty and reliable receivers. The offense was all about crossing routes and check downs and grinding clock. The o line coalesced when it needed to. And their defense became very formidable. They could cover and stop the run. They looked like a real football team by about week 4, and then a playoff contender halfway through the year. Well, it is all pretty much the same this year. Luck is back. They have a stable of backs. They added Devin Funchess, while not great, still good, to a good group of receivers and the defense is pretty much intact. I kind of look at the Colts like the NFL's version of the Portland Trailblazers. They tend to get overlooked, and then they are 8-2 before anyone takes notice. I feel like they struck gold in having to settle for Frank Reich as their head coach. He is a QB's coach, and he installed a perfect offense for this phase of Luck's career. As I said, I think Luck will be fine, and with the core of this team back, I do not see how they don't win their division, and even get a first round bye in the AFC. The Colts are an easy double digit win team for me, probably 11, and as long as Luck is their QB, they will continue to be a playoff threat. Good for you Indy. You got 2 transformational QB's to run your team when you needed it most.
At number 7 I have probably my second least favorite team in the NFL, the Chicago Bears. Look, they won the lottery when they traded for Khalil Mack. That guy is the best defensive player in football, and when he was added to an already good defense, that put the Bears above the top for me. They had it all on that defense, except a pass rushing, run stopping wrecking ball of a linebacker. Then they got Mack. He was astounding last year. Again, I despise that team, but seeing Mack play football is pure joy. It is like watching the Spurs play basketball. It is perfection. Yes, Adrian Amos left in free agency this summer, but he is all they have to replace on one of the best defenses in football. The Bears defense is worthy of making them a title contender. Where I find fault, and why I don't have them in my top three, lies within their QB. Mitch Trubisk, right now, is not a very good NFL QB. Sure, he made a few plays here and there last year, but the Bears won because of their defense and run game. I should know, I had Tarik Cohen on my fantasy team. The offense was good in spite of Trubisky. They won games because they could grind out the clock, and let the defense come in and close things out. The biggest question, and what could make or break this team this year, is if Trubisky can make the leap. I don't think he can. I don't think he is very good. Being a Packer fan, the fact that Trubisky is their starting QB gives me hope that the Packers can stay in it every year he is behind center. Matt Nagy proved to be a capable coach, and he has pretty much everything you need to be a contender, except at QB. The fact that Trubisky is still such an unknown really makes me think twice before I put the Bears in the conversation as a Super Bowl contender. They will still win 10 plus games, and be in the playoffs, but Trubisky is what is holding them back from being a 12 to 13 win team, and a lock for the division.
At number 6 I have the LA Chargers. The Chargers are a team in flux at the running back position, Melvin Gordon just asked to be traded, but I don't think that matters. The Chargers are just like the Colts to me, except with a better defense. Sure, Phillip Rivers is a billion years old, but he has Keenan Allen to throw to. He also has Antonio Gates for another year. The Chargers also played fine without Gordon last year, when Austin Ekeler took his place. They also have a very solid o line. And that defense will get after you. They can rush the passer with the best of them. They can also cover, and they have a heavy hitting secondary. They can outscore you, or win in a slug fest. But, what I always, always, always go back on with this team, is their tendency to sleepwalk through a good portion of the year. They are not consistent with their level of play. Also, when they do have the goods, they have blown it in the past. That is why I do not think they will win, or even be in the Super Bowl for the foreseeable future. I also think Rivers is starting to trend, just a little bit, into Eli Manning territory, and they don't really have a replacement for him yet. But, the Chargers will win 11 or 12 games, and easily be in the playoffs this year.
My final team for the day, coming in at number 5, is the Super Bowl runner up, the LA Rams. The Rams are a very, very good offensive team. They play fast and loose and can run and pass. They are a much better run team because they have Todd Gurley. I know he was injured during the playoffs last year, but even in his few snaps, you could tell that opposing defenses were worried. He has had a full offseason to heal, and I feel like he can go to a whole other level, which is scary. I don't think Jared Goff is a Hall of Famer, but I do think he is a solid game manager, and Sean McVay's offense suits him perfectly. He is like Alex Smith was in KC before Pat Maholmes took over. He can dink and dunk the ball all over the filed, and when he needs to go deep, Brandin Cooks can get that separation. The o line is also great. The defense is the problem, but it isn't much of a problem because they have Aaron Donald. Aaron Donald is amazing. He is the best d lineman I have seen since I watched Reggie Smith when he joined the Packers. Aaron Donald can do it all. He can rush, stop the passer, and I bet he can even guard backs out of the backfield. After Aaron Donald, it gets a bit thin. They have solid guys, like Dante Fowler, Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters, but they did get burned a bunch last season. They played in a lot of high scoring games, due to their inability to get off the field. And while Wade Phillips has done a solid job, let that dude he retire. He is so old. Like fragile old. But, the Rams are in a crummy division, with Seattle being their "toughest" opponent, and that means they can sleepwalk their way to 11 or 12 wins, and be back in the hunt to play in a second straight Super Bowl. Time will tell.
That's it for today, come back tomorrow for the final four teams in my countdown.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing and the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast. Ty misses the days the Rams were in St. Louis and the coach was Jeff Fisher. Nothing says excitement like 7-9 season after 7-9 season.
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