It’s the turn of the horseshoes this week as we take the proverbial comb to their schedule. There are obviously some similarities with the Jaguars schedule in that they are meeting the NFC West this year possibly at its strongest however there will definitely be a difference in their records by January. Let’s take a look.
Easiest Win- Week 17 vs Raiders
Ok I’ll preface this entire paragraph by openly stating that of course the Raiders are not the worst team that the Colts will face this year. How could they be with the Colts in a division that includes the Jaguars and Texans? However, its more of an indictment on the rudderless Raiders that it’s the one game in the Colts schedule I genuinely cannot see ending in anything other than a comprehensive victory. Figuring in the 44-27 beatdown the Colts put on Las Vegas last season and the fact that the Raiders just seem muddled in what they’re trying to do in terms of drafting and free-agent business, this one looks like an easy W for the Colts.
Toughest Game- Week 12 vs Buccaneers
Again, this choice comes with somewhat of an asterisk; the obvious choice for toughest game would probably be visiting the resurgent 49ers in week 7 (assuming they are healthy) but I think the Buccaneers are the tougher matchup all-round. For one, the ghost of Tom Brady haunts the Colts organisation, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon with the talent that Tampa Bay has surrounded him with. Second, Tampa’s defence should worry every single opposing QB this season- Devin White, Ndamukung Suh, Lavonte David, JPP…yikes, that should worry Frank Reich and this matchup will give Carson Wentz nightmares if his OL isn’t up to the task. Lastly, oh yeah these are the defending Super Bowl champions who are essentially running it back- who’s to say they’ll be anything other than playoff bound this season.
Most Interesting Matchup- Week 5 @ Ravens
Probably not the matchup to watch if you’re expecting two QB’s to cut loose and start slinging 60-yard bombs downfield but nonetheless this tough matchup against a playoff team last year should act as an interesting bellwether for how the Colts season is going to go. The Ravens are built similarly to the Colts, mostly based around a stingy defence with a streaky offence which can light up lesser teams. It also comes at the end of a very tough start to the season for Indy meeting Seattle, the Los Angeles Rams, Titans and Dolphins before this. It is not outside the realm of possibility that Indianapolis enters Week 6 with 1 win or fewer. But week 6 is against the Texans, so every cloud and all that.
Make or Break Period- Week 6-10 (vs Texans, at 49ers, vs Titans, vs Jets, vs Jaguars)
So, we mentioned the first 5 weeks for the Colts being a tough stretch- this next 5-week stretch should act as a way of potentially bringing equilibrium back to the season. Factor in also that 3 games of this stretch feature division matchups and it becomes probably the most important 5 games of Indy’s season. 3 of the games also feature teams that won fewer than 5 games last season so the Colts will target 4 wins at the very least in this stretch. Depending on how weeks 1-5 go, the Colts could be hovering around .500 or flying high towards post-season football.
· Week 14 Bye- with only 4 games after the bye, this seems a bit later than you would ideally like
· 10 games against teams .500 or better (vs Seahawks, vs Rams, at Titans, at Dolphins, at Ravens, vs Titans, at Bills, vs Buccaneers, at Cardinals, vs Raiders)
· 7 games against teams under .500 (vs Texans, at 49ers, vs Jets, vs Jaguars, at Texans, vs Patriots, at Jaguars)
This is an interesting schedule no matter what way you look at it. After a tough start to the season, the Colts schedule is fairly routine only interspersed with matchups against teams expected to do well this season. If Indy can remain somewhat unscathed against teams such as the Rams, 49ers, Buccaneers and Bills, I would say they are in good shape for a similar record as last season and a probable playoff spot.