In this week's edition of the RADIO.COM Sports NFL Power Rankings, the Indianapolis Colts checked in at No. 12. As noted in the countdown, one thing kept them from being at least in the top 10 - uncertainty about quarterback Andrew Luck's health.
Luck, the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year in 2018, has been sidelined with what was initially a shin injury, and as of last week, had also become a "high-ankle issue."
Given that Luck is just two years removed from missing the entire season with a shoulder injury, the Colts figure to take their time to assure that the soon-to-be 30-year-old's lower body fully recovers. That may mean, however, that he isn't ready to play in Week 1, when the Colts are set to take on the Chargers in Los Angeles.
"I don't think it would be more than a game, two max - and I do think they could beat the Titans [in Week 2] with Jacoby Brissett," RADIO.com Sports Insider Jason La Canfora said Monday on You Better You Bet. "I think they'll be incredibly smart about this because of what they've been through already with him."
The good news for the Colts is that they feel confident in backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who went 8-10 for 100 yards and a touchdown in the team's Week 2 preseason matchup with the Cleveland Browns. There are many in and around the NFL that feel Brissett is one of the 32 best quarterbacks in the sport.
The problem is, the Colts Week 1 matchup is against a potential Hall of Famer in Philip Rivers and the Chargers, who went 12-4 in 2018. They don't get to ease into the season, as their very first game could go on to have implications on seeding in the AFC playoffs and/or whether the Colts could win a Wild Card spot. That's not the type of game you want Luck to miss, even if you are confident in the abilities of Brissett.
A week after they open with the Chargers, the Colts will head to Tennessee, where the Titans were 6-2 last season. Certainly, that's a game that the Colts could win with Brissett under center, but you would feel much better with Luck.
Before they see Antonio Brown (maybe) and the Oakland Raiders in Week 4, the Colts will welcome Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons to Lucas Oil Stadium for their home opener in Week 3. Again, it's a game that they could win with Brissett, but almost certainly will win if Luck is playing.