Would a Healthy Andrew Luck Even Make the Colts Playoff Contenders?

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The Indianapolis Colts can’t make the playoffs without Andrew Luck—that’s pretty clear. The possibility only slightly increases with Luck in the lineup.

The team’s personnel—especially the defense and skill positions—is filled with question marks, though you wouldn’t know it from general manager Chris Ballard’s recent comments.

“I think we’re sitting on a sleeping giant. I really do,” Ballard proclaimed, per Andrew Walker of the Colts’ official site.

The Colts are coming off a 4-12 campaign and have a new coaching staff (after being dumped by their chosen candidate) and a quarterback who hasn’t thrown a full-sized football in over 500 days. Optimism needs to be tempered no matter how excited the franchise is about the possibilities.

“I’m really excited to work with [Luck],” new offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni said, per the Goshen News’ George Bremer. “He’s a sharp guy, off-the-charts intelligence, football IQ. So what a guy to be able to work with. And obviously the sky’s the limit when we have a quarterback of his caliber.”

A few promising signs emerged for the Colts nfl jerseys cheap nike in the last month, starting with Luck’s recovery from 2017 offseason shoulder surgery.

“He’s doing good,” Ballard said of Luck, per Walker. “Strongest I’ve seen him, both mentally and physically.”

The Colts have been down this road before. They expected their signal-caller to be ready for the start of the 2017 campaign, but he didn’t play a snap before being placed on injured reserve in November.

An injured player becomes part of the forgotten during an extended layoff. Luck’s presence has always loomed over the organization, but his overall talent and what he means to the team must be re-evaluated. Will he return from nfl nike jerseys cheap shoulder surgery like Drew Brees did in 2006, or will his career path closely follow Chad Pennington’s?

The first overall pick entered the league as the closest thing to a perfect prospect. His combination of size (6’4″ and 240 pounds), athleticism, arm talent, intelligence and polish made him the most sought-after quarterback in the last 25 years.

Luck has fallen short of expectations because of injuries, and how he responds will show his mettle.

“I mean, look, we’re sitting on a unique human being; what he stands for [is] everything we want to stand for,” Ballard said. “Really, one of the growths that I’ve seen in Andrew—I mean, Andrew is very talented, and he’s been talented his whole life. And we’re really getting to see some of his internal grit right now to get over a hump that was very difficult to do.”nike nfl jersey cheap

Quenton Nelson’s selection with the sixth overall pick will become the foundation upon which Luck and the Colts can stand. Nelson is the closest thing to a surefire draft pick. He developed into a dominant force for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and his highlight reel, even as an offensive lineman, is the stuff of legend.

With Nelson nestled between Anthony Castonzo cheap nfl jerseys nike and Ryan Kelly, the left side of the Colts offensive line is settled. The right is far more fluid.

Second-round pick Braden Smith is the favorite to start at right guard, while the organization recently signed eight-year veteran Austin Howard to compete at right tackle.

The potential pitfalls of inexperience along the interior and replacing nike nfl jerseys for cheap three starters could have a negative effect despite the overall talent upgrade. Mistakes will be made. Hopefully, Luck won’t pay the price again.

NFC West

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Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals may be the NFL’s worst team next season even though they still have Larry Fitzgerald, Chandler Jones, Patrick Peterson and David Johnson (when fully healthy). Between a new head coach in Steve Wilks, Sam Bradford’s ailing knee, an unsettled offensive front and Tyrann Mathieu’s departure, they have no shortage of concerns to address. This is a team in transition, and it’ll take some time to rebuild after losing former head coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Carson Palmer to retirement. Unfortunately, the Cardinals also face schedule issues since they travel to San Francisco and Minnesota in Weeks 5 and 6 before returning home to play the Broncos on Thursday Night Football.

Prediction: 3-13

Los Angeles Rams

The rich got richer in Los Angeles with the Rams’ addition of Aqib Talib, Brandin Cooks,cheap nfl jerseys nike  Marcus Peters and Ndamukong Suh. General manager Les Snead realized championship windows are short-lived, and last year’s 11-5 campaign opened the Rams’ window of opportunity. cheap nike nfl jerseys china Los Angeles is arguably the NFL’s most talented team on paper, as it touts difference-makers at every position. The Rams now operate on a Super Bowl standard after so many years of substandard play. A Week 15 meeting with the Eagles could serve as the NFC’s changing of the guard.

Prediction: 13-3

San Francisco 49ers

A five-game winning streak to end the previous season nike nfl jerseys for cheap would have any team excited, but the 49ers must be especially exuberant this offseason since they now have their franchise quarterback signed to a long-term deal. While San Francisco’s roster still has holes, Jimmy Garoppolo’s presence in the lineup makes everything else better. Garoppolo vs. Goff to end the season will be a treat as long as the 49ers or Rams aren’t sitting the starters. San Francisco’s additions of Richard Sherman, Weston Richburg and Jerick McKinnon are just icing on the cake, as all three are talented and fit well in the team’s schemes.

Prediction: 9-7

Seattle Seahawks

Nothing lasts forever, and the Seahawks are finally feeling the effects of long-term success with an aging and nfl jerseys nike cheap  crumbling roster. Seattle doesn’t just need to replace stalwarts like Sherman—who returns to Seattle in Week 15 as a member of the 49ers—Michael Bennett and Kam Chancellor; a philosophical change is necessary, too. The spotlight now shifts to Russell Wilson and the offense even though the unit still lacks a cohesive offensive line, a reliable lead back and a true outside-the-numbers threat at wide receiver.

AFC West

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Denver Broncos

The addition of Case Keenum is a step in the right direction for Denver. But is he a franchise quarterback or a one-year wonder? Either way, the Broncos should be more consistent at the game’s most important position after last year’s epic failure split between Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. Denver’s defense is still formidable nike nfl jerseys cheap , even with Aqib Talib’s departure. Talib returns to town Week 6 when the Rams visit the Mile High City. Barring another career year from Keenum,cheap nfl custom jerseys  the Broncos offense might not be able to hold up its end of the bargain.

Prediction: 7-9

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs have finished 9-7 or better in each of Andy Reid’s five seasons as head coach, but he could always rely on Alex Smith to steady the ship. Kansas City will now rely on second-year signal-caller Patrick Mahomes after trading Smith to Washington this offseason cheap nfl jerseys nike . Mahomes has an enormous ceiling, but he’s sure to encounter growing pains during his first year as a starting NFL quarterback. The defense likewise may struggle without Marcus Peters and Derrick Johnson, which makes the AFC West wide-open for the first time in three years. A Week 1 meeting with the Chargers could be an early indicator of the division’s hierarchy.

Prediction: 8-8

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers won six of their last seven games under first-year head coach Anthony Lynn. They’re poised to build upon last year’s strong finish since all of their key components remain in place. The addition of Mike Pouncey along with a healthy Forrest Lamp should solidify a once-shaky offensive line, while receiver Mike Williams has a chance to become a bigger part of the offense in his second season. Meanwhile, the Chargers still feature the league’s best one-two pass-rush punch in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. nfl jerseys cheap nike Los Angeles is well-positioned to win the division.

Prediction: 10-6

Oakland Raiders

Having Jon Gruden back on the sidelines might be exciting for Raiders owner Mark Davis and the franchise’s fanbase nfl nike jerseys cheap . However, one has to wonder whether the former Monday Night Football color analyst is prepared for today’s game after nine years in the booth. Gruden favors reliable veterans, and the team’s 15 free-agent signings are, on average, 29 years old. The Raiders may be more experienced around franchise cornerstones Derek Carr, Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack,nike nfl jersey cheap  but they aren’t necessarily better. In an interesting twist, the Raiders open the season on Monday Night Football against the Rams.

Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans

This ranking may turn a few heads.

After all, Deshaun Watson only played in seven games (and start six) for the Houston Texans as a rookie before an ACL tear in practice ended his year.

But man, what a seven-game stretch it was.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

Watson was positively electric from the moment he stepped into the huddle, consistently using his athleticism and escapability to buy time before finding open receivers down the field. Over those first seven games as a pro, Watson tossed 19 touchdown passes—in that regard, it’s the most prolific debut from a quarterback in league history.

Texans head coach Bill O’Brien told John McClain of the Houston Chronicle he’s confident Watson can stay healthy moving forward, in part because he knows when to say when.

“That’s one thing I think Deshaun’s really good at,” O’Brien said. “We practice that. We talked to him about that. But he has a really good instinct for maybe gaining the five or six yards and then going down before he takes the shot.nfl cheap nike jerseys

“That’s a big thing that young quarterbacks usually have a problem with. He seems to have an instinct for being able to stay out of harm’s way.”

Provided O’Brien is right, the sky is the limit for the 22-year-old in his sophomore season.490a7c484f2044158ec8529cda02804a_crop_exact

The 2017 season is one Dallas Cowboys tailback Ezekiel Elliott would probably just as soon forget. One year after leading the National Football League with 1,631 yards on the ground, Elliott spent six games of his sophomore season on the shelf because of a suspension.cheap official nike nfl jerseys

As a result, Elliott failed to rush for 1,000 yards—and the Cowboys failed to make the playoffs.

It was a disaster. In retrospect, Elliott and the Cowboys would have been better off just serving the suspension to open the season instead of having the never-ending legal struggle hanging over the team for almost the entire year.

That’s all in the past now.

And the future brings with it a great chance for a rebound season.

Even amid the constant distractions last year, Elliott’s per-touch numbers remained solid. He’ll be back to his status as the focal point of the Cowboys offense in 2018. And while there were character concerns last year, no one is questioning Elliott’s ability to bang away between the tackles or wear a defense down.new nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap

Cleveland Browns Take Courtland Sutton at No. 35

SMU’s Courtland Sutton was one of college football’s most prolific receivers over the last two seasons, amassing 2,331 yards and 22 touchdowns. He has tremendous size (6’3″, 218 lbs) and enough strength to win on 50-50 balls. Miller recently labeled Sutton this year’s nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap best boundary receiver and the receiver prospect with the best potential.

Would such a receiver fall out of the first round in today’s pass-driven era? Given the recent struggles of first-round receivers, it’s certainly possible.18ec3baeaf7b5edcc4bc388a28576466_crop_exact
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In 2016 and 2017, seven wide receivers—Corey Coleman, Will Fuller, Josh Doctson, Laquon Treadwell, Corey Davis, Mike Williams and John Ross—were drafted in the first round. They combined for just 1,900 yards receiving last season. That’s an average of 271.4 yards per player.

Teams may be wary of taking a wideout in Round 1—though Alabama’s Calvin Ridley should go in the first 32 picks.
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The Browns, who traded for wideout Jarvis Landry this offseason, scoop up Sutton with the 35th pick. He’d be a good fit alongside Landry and across the field from Josh Gordon.

The surprise is that Sutton lasts until Round 2 and the Browns don’t even draft him with their first second-round pick (where they’ll be focused on an offensive tackle).nike cheap nfl jerseys

Oklahoma City Thunder

“The reintegration is more difficult than people believe, especially defensively,”nike nfl cheap jerseys  said one playoff-bound Western Conference GM. “When major players are out, sometimes it’s difficult to re-establish a rhythm.”

An Eastern Conference scout added that he is skeptical the Warriors’ bench is as good as it has been in the past, and that could prove to be a critical difference as well with so many stars ailing.

“I do think they may be in trouble even if Steph makes it back,” the scout said. “They seem to have lost some bench depth (Indeed, the offensive efficiency of that unit has dipped a bit from last season). They’ve struggled at various times during the nfl nike jerseys cheap china season and not just recently.” To that end, the Warriors have already lost almost as many games this season as they did in the last two combined, including seven of their last 10 games, including a pair of back-to-backs.08c249d034b1817ede7840f9adcd9bed_crop_exactnike jerseys nfl cheap

The long-term concern regarding Curry is that this isn’t his first bout with injury. Ankle issues limited him to 26 appearances in his third season, and two years ago he sustained a sprained knee ligament in Game 4 of their first-round series against the Rockets. That was a Grade 1 sprain in his right knee—the current one is Grade 2 in his left—and the Warriors were on their way to a 3-1 lead in the series when it happened. His struggles in the Finals (where he shot 40.3 percent in the series after shooting 50.4 percent in the regular season) played a role in the team falling short in its back-to-back title bid.cheap official nike nfl jerseys

Other than that, as Curry has noted, he has been fairly durable. But for a player who isn’t overpowering from a pure physical sense and creates the air space for his shots with slippery-quick lateral agility, he can ill afford to be physically compromised in any way. Especially cheap nike nfl jerseys from china now that he’s in the first year of a five-year, $201 million contract.