If You Think the Colts Are a Terrible Football Team, You Are Wrong.

The Indianapolis Colts Stephon Gilmore. © Michelle Pemberton/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK.

If You Think the Colts Are a Terrible Football Team, You Are Wrong.

The Dallas Cowboys disemboweled the Indianapolis Colts two weeks ago, 54-19, and accordingly, the assumption is that Jeff Saturday’s team is terrible. Well, the Colts were dreadful in that game, but they’re not the 2017 Cleveland Browns — or anything close to it.

You see, Saturday’s team is actually phenomenal defensively. It just doesn’t feel like it because of the recent Cowboys-laden beatdown.

If You Think the Colts Are a Terrible Football Team, You Are Wrong.

If You Think the Colts Are a Terrible Football Team, You Are Wrong.
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

Facts first — the Colts offense is stinky. It isn’t any good. If Indianapolis lights up the sky on Saturday or gashes Minnesota on the ground, Kevin O’Connell and Ed Donatell have an even larger problem than most surmised. Statistically, the Colts offense is akin to the lowly Houston Texans, ranking 31st leaguewide in Offensive EPA/Play. This examination does not seek to convince you about Indianapolis’ under-the-radar status as an offensive powerhouse.

But while the Colts offense is generally anemic, the squad is 4-8-1 because of defense. And the Colts defense isn’t merely “respectable” or “not horrible.” Instead, it’s quite good. These are notable numbers about the Colts defense heading into Week 15:

  • 3rd in Passing Yards Allowed
  • 6th in Yards per Rush Allowed
  • 8th in Yards Allowed
  • 8th in Defensive 3rd Down Conv %
  • 9th in Defensive EPA/Play
  • 10th in QB Hurries
  • 12th in Defensive DVOA
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports.

Vikings fans would kill for most of the numbers on defense. Let it be clear. On the 16th day of the 12th month in 2022, the Year of Our Lord — the Colts have a stout defense. Its reputation has simply been dampened because of the atrocity displayed versus Dallas.

Led by DeForest Buckner (DL), Stephon Gilmore (CB), Rodney McLeod (S), Kwity Paye (EDGE), Isaiah Rodgers (CB), and Grover Stewart (DL), the Colts defense is peppered with talent. In fact, before the regular season began, Indianapolis was a fashionable choice by several NFL pundits to steal the AFC South from the Tennessee Titans. Well, the offense never meshed, and the previous head coach, Frank Reich, played hot potato with QB1 and QB2 while failing to maximize Jonathan Taylor’s touches.

It’s undoubtedly acceptable for Vikings loyalists to forecast a bounceback performance at home, perhaps resulting in Minnesota finally beating an opponent by more than eight points. This is the perfect game for it — and possibly the last game of 2022 where the Vikings play against a weak-ish opponent. However, the Colts aren’t a doomed organization, nor a bottom-feeder who can be shoved to the side because of reputation.

Colts Reveal Starting QB at Vikings
Indianapolis Colts interim head coach Jeff Saturday. © Robert Scheer/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Finally, the Vikings never play very well against Indianapolis. During their last two meetings, in 2016 and 2020, Minnesota used the Colts matchup to offer their worst showing of the season. The Vikings played miserably at U.S. Bank Stadium versus Andrew Luck and Co. in 2016 and didn’t look much better in 2020 at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Vikings have beaten the Colts in 25 years,

So, predict a Vikings victory. That’s fine and dandy. If Minnesota wins, though, it will have occurred against a formidable defense — that no one seems to mention.


Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).