Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs

Are the Colts a real threat to the Chiefs in the AFC?

Could the Indianapolis Colts challenge the Kansas City Chiefs this year?

The Kansas City Chiefs are great, but so might be the Indianapolis Colts in 2020.

Face it. The AFC is incredibly top heavy. The 2020 NFL season feels like it’ll be a collision course for the Chiefs to meet the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship game. Of course, Lamar Jackson and the rest of Ravens Flock need to learn how to win a darn home playoff game first, but that’s a story for another time. What we’re talking about today is who else can ascend in the AFC.

With Baltimore and Kansas City feeling like locks to win their respective divisions, we must turn our attention to the other two. In the AFC East, the Buffalo Bills were the favorites over the New England Patriots, and could still be the favorites, even after the Evil Empire signed former Carolina Panthers MVP quarterback Cam Newton to a dirt cheap, incentive-laden contract.

As for the AFC South, it’s a two or three-team race between the Colts, the Houston Texans and the Tennessee Titans. Despite winning four of the last five division crowns, Houston feels like a major regression candidate in 2020, although Deshaun Watson is an incredible playmaker. With the Colts having the Titans’ number in recent years, Indianapolis must be the favorite to win the AFC South.

Are the Indianapolis Colts a threat to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC?

On the surface, not really, but what’s bubbling beneath the surface in Indianapolis is more than meets the eye. Here is why Chiefs Kingdom would be foolish to cross off the Colts just yet as one of their most formidable challengers in the AFC this season. It may be a year early, but eventually the Colts will arrive under the new regime.

First, the partnership of general manager Chris Ballard and head coach Frank Reich is excellent. It is exponentially better than the over-their-skis buffoonery of Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano, the tandem that inadvertently rag dolled their sweet quarterback prince Andrew Luck into an early retirement. With Ballard and Reich, the Colts are built the right way to sustain great success.

Indianapolis traded its first-round pick for a proven commodity in defensive lineman DeForest Buckner with the San Francisco 49ers. John Lynch drafted Buckner’s replacement in Javon Kinlaw out of the University of South Carolina with that No. 13 pick, but Buckner will be the better player in 2020 going away. He will amplify what should be another strong Matt Eberflus defense in Indy.

As for the offense, Reich welcomes in his former San Diego Chargers buddy Philip Rivers to make some magic happen. Is Rivers washed? Probably, but the future Pro Football Hall of Famer is competitive as hell and has spent his entire NFL career facing the Chiefs twice annually. As long has he’s not hot garbage again at quarterback, the Colts have the horses to win the AFC South.

Even if Rivers runs dry, Reich can hand the reins over to stop-gap starter Jacoby Brissett and have success moving the sticks. Better yet, the Colts crushed day two of their draft. Of their four day-two selections, Ballard came away with USC Trojans wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., Wisconsin Badgers running back Jonathan Taylor and Washington Huskies quarterback Jacob Eason.

Look for Pittman to star immediately opposite perennial Pro Bowl wideout T.Y. Hilton. Taylor won the Doak Walker twice in college, so look for him to form an elite tailback tandem with Marlon Mack. While Eason isn’t ready to play, he possesses the best arm talent to grace Indianapolis since native son Jeff George. If he’s a third as aloof as George, Eason can one day be a star for the Colts.

Next: Look for these 5 NFL defenses to be greatly improved in 2020

Overall, the AFC undoubtedly belongs to the Chiefs. However, it may not be the Ravens who Kansas City faces in the AFC title bout this winter. It’s a long way away, but the Colts can represent the AFC South in the conference championship game for the third time in four years. They are the unquestioned dark horses here, but who saw the Titans playing in the title bout last year?

The Colts are built the right way to present an interesting challenger to Kansas City this season.

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