The following is an excerpt of the Colts Preview Chapter from Warren Sharp’s 2024 Football Preview book. In addition to Warren’s deep, detailed write-up on all 32 NFL teams, each chapter features page after page of full-color charts, stats, and heatmaps to help you fully understand the strengths and weaknesses of every team heading into the 2024 NFL season. Click here for a full FREE chapter from the 2024 Football Preview.

After I share the following about the 2023 Colts, I want you to guess how many games this team won.

As of August 30, the 2023 Colts had just three wide receivers on their roster.

They were off a four-win season with an offense that ranked #32.

They had a rookie quarterback and a rookie head coach trying to transform the worst offense in the NFL.

Their rookie QB played in only four games after being injured multiple times and ending up on the injured reserve list.

The journeyman QB they turned to had a record of 2-10 (0.167) in his prior three seasons as a starter.

Teams with young and inexperienced QB play often lean more into the running game, but Jonathan Taylor missed training camp and the first four weeks of the 2023 season due to his recovery from ankle surgery and a contract dispute that led to a trade request in late July. Taylor would go on to miss three more games later in the season.

The Colts played the #1 toughest schedule of run defenses, forcing them to lean even more on their terrible quarterback situation.

And the Colts played the NFL’s #2 toughest schedule of overall defenses.

By the end of the season, their roster was the #7 most injured.

The Colts were underdogs in their first eight games of the season.

Now, how many games do you think this team won in 2023?

What if I told you that after Week 17, the Colts were 9-7 and in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC South with the playoffs on the line based on Week 18’s result?

The NFL flexed their game to Saturday night in primetime vs. the Houston Texans. The Colts could clinch the AFC South if they won and the Jaguars lost their game. The Colts could make the playoffs even if the Jaguars won as long as they won and the Steelers lost.

The Colts drove the length of the field in 11 plays to open the game but settled for a field goal.


The very next snap, the Texans scored a one-play, 75-yard touchdown on a bomb from C.J. Stroud to Nico Collins, and the Texans never trailed again. A late rally by the Colts tied the game in the fourth quarter, 17-17, but the Texans won 23-19.

It was disappointing for the Colts.

But it should never have happened.

There was no reason the Colts should have been a playoff team last year. Logically, it’s hard to imagine them sitting at 9 wins with a shot at the playoffs.

This team was severely lacking in talent and severely injured. Even now looking back, it seems to defy logic they finished with the record they did.

Turnovers were a big part of it.

Though they were only +2 on the season, they didn’t win games unless they had turnovers go their way.

It was a PERFECT indicator of success for the Colts:

  • They were 0-6 when losing the turnover battle.
  • They were 2-2 when the turnover margin was even.
  • They were 7-0 when they won the turnover battle.

Other “luck” factors would be the next logical place to look when a team severely overperforms expectations.

But the Colts were #26 in field goal luck.

And they were #26 in injury luck.

So they didn’t get any help in those areas. On the contrary, they were hurt.

And they were league-average in fumble recovery luck. 

The only thing that went their way was close game results.

But even that record of 6-3 in one-score games wasn’t the result of some sort of late scoring to flip losses to wins.

The Colts were an NFL-best 8-0 when leading at halftime, but they were 1-7 if they trailed at halftime.

They couldn’t overcome turnovers, and they unsurprisingly weren’t built for comebacks.

Almost exclusively, when the Colts won games it was because of their offense, and that was largely because of what Shane Steichen brought to the table.

But don’t take my word for it.

Ask the Philadelphia Eagles.

This analysis continues in the 2024 Football Preview

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