Indianapolis Colts, NFL Free Agency

Does Philip Rivers make Colts a true contender?

By adding Philip Rivers as their new starting quarterback in free agency, do the Indianapolis Colts become a true contending team in the AFC in 2020?

Philip Rivers becomes the next Hall of Fame quarterback to play for the Indianapolis Colts.

Even though he’ll get into Canton one day solely on his excellence with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers, Rivers made a point he’s not done playing.

Now, he’ll suit up for his former Chargers offensive coordinator in Indianapolis.

Frank Reich has done well in his first two years as the Colts head coach, but this team hasn’t won the division since 2014. Will Rivers fix this ongoing issue in the AFC South? And if so, are the Colts now a true contending team in the AFC this year?

With a few more seats left to be filled in NFL free-agent quarterback musical chairs, here is what we know about the AFC entering 2020. The two prohibitive favorites to win the Lamar Hunt Trophy next fall are the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and the reigning AFC North champion Baltimore Ravens coming off a 14-2 campaign.

The Chiefs and the Ravens are favored to repeat in their respective divisions. With Tom Brady leaving the New England Patriots, maybe the Buffalo Bills are the new favorites in the AFC East? Frankly, all four teams have a shot at winning the division with Brady out of the picture. Regardless, only Buffalo can really push Baltimore and Kansas City in the AFC.

But what about the AFC South?

Like the AFC East, this division feels totally up for grabs. The Houston Texans made the worst trade we’ve seen since Herschel Walker went to the Minnesota Vikings. Houston can’t be expected to repeat in the AFC South for Bill O’Brien reasons. It looks like the Jacksonville Jaguars are rebuilding again, so they’re out of it. So that leaves us the Colts and the Tennessee Titans.

With the Colts having the Titans’ number for the better part of a decade, you can certainly argue for the Colts to be the new favorite to win the division. However, Tennessee does look to be a formidable challenger in divisional play and the Titans did reach the AFC Championship last year as the No. 6 seed. In short, the divisional race comes down to the Colts and the Titans.

Overall, Rivers played terribly last year in his final season with the Chargers. That roster was nearly as stacked as what he’ll be inheriting with the Colts. Plus, he’s not that much of an upgrade over Jacoby Brissett at quarterback. However, Rivers might be better than Ryan Tannehill coming off a career year, which could help the Colts win the division if Tannehill regresses to the mean.

Ultimately, the Colts may only be the fourth-best team in the AFC next year. If Brady goes to Los Angeles, then they’re fifth behind the Chiefs, Ravens, Bills and Chargers in some order.

While Rivers makes the Colts an AFC South contender, they already were that with Brissett. If the Colts get to an AFC Championship Game with Rivers next year, that would be a huge accomplishment.

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