News from the AFC North

 

Kate Arhar
Senior Sports Editor AFC North and NFC South

By Kate Arhar // @ClvlndK8 

Week two of the NFL Preseason has gone and plenty of questions have been left unanswered for the teams in the AFC North.

All four teams (Ravens, Bengals, Browns and Steelers) seem to have locked on to their starting quarterback. It’s going to be the position battles that most intrigue fans during training camp and the preseason. At last wide receiver Antonio Brown and his helmet issues are no longer a problem in this division! Good luck with that, Oakland!

But there were two really heartbreaking losses this week in the death’s of former Bengals running back Cedric Benson and Steelers wide receivers coach Darryl Drake.

Let’s see what’s been going on in the North….

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The Colts have confidence in Jacoby Brissett (And maybe you should, too)

Julie Voigt, Indianapolis Colts Reporter

By Julie Voigt // @JulieNoted_PFG

Maybe it might feel like a repeat of the Indianapolis Colts 2017 Luck-less season, but believe it or not, the Colts have all the confidence needed in back up QB Jacoby Brissett.

And although those words are really hard to put together again, perhaps this might be a bit more encouraging… of course, that’s IF Brissett is needed past week one of the new season.

After the news from Colts’ GM Chris Ballard on Tuesday evening of yet another injury to 2018’s NFL Comeback Player of the Year, Andrew Luck will most likely miss the preseason due to a possible ankle injury. And of course as said before, flashbacks of the 2017 come to mind.

But in this case, this will not be a repeat of 2017.

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Colts find a gem in Parris

Julie Voigt, Indianapolis Colts Reporter

By Julie Voigt // @JulieNoted_PFG 

Rebuilding a team can take more than a season.  But when it comes to the Indianapolis Colts, under the command of general manager Chris Ballard, the rebuild is almost complete.

During the rebuilding process, Ballard’s focus was to make over this team and gather young weapons to make a postseason run.  Perhaps we saw a preview last season when the Colts caught fire after a slow 1-5 start that eventually led them to a surprising postseason run.

Ballard started this process with his second-round picks. Particularly, of course, we all know the story of linebacker Darius Leonard, a player that Ballard drafted in 2018. Some questioned the pick.  But he now leads as one of the Top NFL Players 25-and-younger brigade along with Colts’ guard Quenton Nelson.  And don’t forget, he was named Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2018.

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Wrapping up the draft for the AFC and NFC South

Sonja Greenfield, Senior NFL Reporter

By Sonja Greenfield //@Mom23RN

This week I’ll be looking at the AFC and NFC South and how they did with their drafts.  I’ll ask 3 questions about each team.  Did they address their biggest need? Who will have the biggest impact? What could 2019 look like?

Let’s start with the Indianapolis Colts. After having a pretty strong offensive line, quarterback Andrew Luck, and Pro Bowl tight end Eric Ebron, the Colts focused on defense.  7 of their 10 picks were defensive.

Who could have the biggest impact? Former Michigan State safety Khari Willis.  He worked hard and was an impact player.  I think he’ll fit in nicely.  2019 for the Colts?  If their defense lives up to its potential, it could be tough sledding for the rest of the AFC South.

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The Colts are trusting the process

Julie Voigt, Indianapolis Colts Reporter

By Julie Voigt // @JulieNoted_PFG

Happy New NFL Year! It is the March Madness of the NFL. Legal tampering and free agency is well over a week old and it started off with quite a bang for some teams, including former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown to the Oakland Raiders and his former teammate, running back Le’Veon Bell to the New York Jets, and not to mention the huge trade that sent WR Odell Beckham, Jr. to the Cleveland Browns.  

And although these big name signings and teams were bringing the month of March “in like a lion”, the Indianapolis Colts were, and still are, very quiet in the trade talks.

The Colts, who currently hold the most salary cap space for the 2019 season, have little movement  going forward. Listening to many of his pressers and interviews, it should not be a shock that Colts’ GM Chris Ballard didn’t have any plans to sign any huge names or make big splashes. And there is nothing wrong with that, in my humble and honest opinion.

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The Colts have questions to answer

Julie Voigt, Indianapolis Colts Reporter

By Julie Voigt // @JulieNoted_PFG 

Despite a tough loss last weekend against the number one seed in the AFC, the Indianapolis Colts are looking forward to bigger and brighter days in the 2019 season.

And although this team ended their season sooner than later, I believe they will be great contenders in the seasons to come.

But as for now, there are a few things to look out for in the offseason.

Who will stay and who will go?

Free agency will quickly be upon us. And just as soon as the clock strikes 4 pm EST, some big trades will be happening. Names like kicker Adam Vinatieri, wide receiver Chester Rogers, safety Mike Mitchell and guard Mark Glowinski are just a few on the list of free agents. Names like these were definitely considered playmakers this season, and lots of decision making will have to happen.

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Colts vs Chiefs is anyone’s game

Julie Voigt, Indianapolis Colts Reporter

By Julie Voigt //@JulieNoted_PFG

It was the second largest comeback in NFL history. 

Back in January 2014, the Indianapolis Colts recorded a major AFC Divisional win in Indianapolis against the Chiefs. A team that was trailing by 28 points early in the third quarter,  with a little “Luck”, the Colts claimed victory by a final score of 45-44 and a ticket to the AFC Championship in New England.

This season, these two teams are completely different. Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes is leading the AFC’s number one seed to the divisional round after a well-deserved bye week.  This has been their first number one finish since 1995. Andy Reid’s team finished the season 12-4 and 7-1 at home. The Chiefs also have the best offense in the league. With that being said, they also have one of the worse defensive lines.

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Colts could become the perfect fairy tale this season

Julie Voigt, Indianapolis Colts Reporter

By Julie Voigt // @JulieNoted_PFG

As we all know and love, fairy tales start off with a “Once Upon A Time” and end up “…and they lived happily ever after.” And there is no doubt in my mind that the Indianapolis Colts are quickly becoming the perfect Cinderella story of the season.

During the preseason, Colts were ranked #32. News that Colts quarterback Andrew Luck was back after a season ending shoulder injury, but was the team improving as well? Was Luck not going to be the same? Was Colts’ GM Chris Ballard making all the right moves?

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It’s all over and there’s no shouting; Titans lose to Colts 33-17

Karen Christensen, Tennessee Titans Reporter

By Karen Christensen //@ksc47

Colts 33 – Titans 17

The Tennessee Titans had a tumultuous year, with injuries, weird wins, and stupid losses.  They beat “good teams” like the Philadelphia Eagles and lost to “bad teams” like the Buffalo Bills. (Sorry to my original hometown team, I still love the Bills).  

And then there is the Indianapolis Colts who just seems to be the Tennessee Titans’ kryptonite, at least when quarterback Andrew Luck is playing.

The Titans can’t figure out how to beat Indianapolis when Luck is at the helm.  Now the Colts are moving on to the playoffs and the Titans are cleaning out their lockers.

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For the Colts, it will be a season defining game on Sunday

Julie Voigt, Indianapolis Colts Reporter

By Julie Voigt//  @JulieNoted_NFL

With the Pittsburgh Steelers’ loss to the New Orleans Saints, and a Houston Texans loss to the Philadelphia Eagles this past Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts were the sixth seed. In order to secure a playoff spot, Indianapolis has one more task at hand on Sunday Night Football:  beat the Tennessee Titans or simply  go home.

This Sunday means everything to this 9-6 team. With a win over the Tennessee Titans, they will earn a spot in the postseason for the first time since 2014.  With a Titans loss, Colts will secure the sixth-seed and earn a wildcard spot.  Here is where it gets interesting, with a win over Tennessee, and if the Houston Texans lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Colts will be crowned as the AFC South Champs.

This situation is also mirrored for the Titans, who are also 9-6 and are behind the Colts.

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