by Kent Sterling
Quite and schedule the NFL put together for the Indianapolis Colts. Back to back 11-5 seasons and a step in the right direction with a thrilling playoff comeback win over the Kansas City Chiefs have prompted a prime time heavy lineup.
Five times the Colts will be featured on Thursday, Sunday, and Monday Night Football, including the first two weeks.
As tough as the Colts schedule appeared to be last season, it looks just that reasonable in 2014 (no schedule in the NFL can be called easy).
The final roster isn’t even close to set, Reggie Wayne is a complete question mark, a center is not only on the wish list – it’s on the must have list, and what about Daniel Adongo? The NFL Drat starts two weeks from tonight, but the Colts only have five picks so it’s really not as big an issue as it might be. April 24th is four months early for reasonable prognostication, but I’m feeling cocky after guessing 11-5 last year.
Here is the schedule, and my ludicrously premature predictions for each.
- Sun, Sep 7 at Denver 8:30 PM – Tough to beat the master at home to kick off the season. While the Super Bowl certainly stung more severely, the return to Indy defeat for Peyton Manning wasn’t much fun either. Manning will come out hot and stay hot. This is a loss for the Colts. (0-1)
- Mon, Sep 15 vs. Philadelphia 8:30 PM – The home opener against an Eagles team that started cold in 2013, and became better than average. The Eagles were doubtless the worst of the division winners, but the still won the woeful NFC East. DeSean Jackson is gone, but that could be a net positive. The Eagles will be coming off a win against Jacksonville, and I can’t imagine them winning two to start the season. No matter who holds the remotes and where Pat stands, the Colts find a way to slow down the Chip Kelly offense. The Colts avoid an 0-2 start with a win here. (1-1)
- Sun, Sep 21 at Jacksonville 1:00 PM – The reason the Colts schedule grades out as easy is the six games they play against the AFC South. Maybe the relentless high draft picks that keep piling up in the division will bear fruit at some point, but Jacksonville will be lousy for the foreseeable future. I looked up and down at their roster, and if there is a reason for the Colts to fear the Jags, he’s has yet to join the club. Colts win. (2-1)
- Sun, Sep 28 vs. Tennessee 1:00 PM – It’s been since the 2008 season that the Titans have gone to the playoffs, and they could be 0-3 going into this game after playing at Kansas City and Cincinnati while hosting Dallas. It’s nut cutting time for QB Jake Locker, and if the Titans are 0-3 heading into this game, his nuts might have been cut. As mediocre as Tennessee was in 2013, the Colts beat them by three and eight points, so winning this game might not be as easy as it appears. Colts win. (3-1)
- Sun, Oct 5 vs. Baltimore 1:00 PM – If predicting the outcome of games involving most NFL games over four months before the beginning of the season is silly, guessing what might happen with the Ravens is futile. Somehow they were 8-8 last year with Ray Rice who appeared to have lost all steps. He’s unlikely to get better, whatever the disposition of his prosecution for allegedly knocking his wife unconscious in a casino elevator during the offseason. The Ravens are a shadow of their 2013 Super Bowl championship selves. Colts win. (4-1)
- Thu, Oct 9 at Houston 8:25 PM – If the Texans grab Jadeveon Clowney #1, they will give the Colts offensive line and Andrew Luck nightmares. The defense will be tested by the ageless Andre Johnson, who enjoyed a season in 2013 that compares nicely with the best of his outstanding career. While I have a tough time imagining the Colts losing in Houston, I’m going to pick the Texans because winning on the road is hard. This smells like a trap game to me. Colts lose. (4-2)
- Sun, Oct 19 vs. Cincinnati 1:00 PM – The Bengals are getting better bit by bit along with the perpetually angry looking young quarterback Andy Dalton. The Bengals will be coming off games at New England and at home against Carolina before visiting Lucas Oil Stadium, so I like the Colts chances despite last years demolition of the Horseshoes in Cincy last season. Colts win. (5-2)
- Sun, Oct 26 at Pittsburgh 4:25 PM – If you asked 100 NFL fans where Ben Roethlisberger is in the continuum of his career, 80 would say “in decline.” And they would be wrong. Despite being 32 years old and suffering hundreds of hits in his decade with the Steelers, Big Ben had one of his best seasons in 2013 setting career bests in attempts and completions while amassing the second highest totals in yards and TDs. This is going to be a tough game for the Colts as Pittsburgh is not a very hospitable town. Colts lose. (5-3)
- Mon, Nov 3 at NY Giants 8:30 PM – The Giants were not good last year, and I am unconvinced the bottom is still ahead for Tom Coughlin’s team. Monday Night Football is not quite the same environment as it is elsewhere for some reason, and I like the Colts to grab this one on the road to run their record to 1-1 versus the Mannings. Colts win. (6-3)
- Sun, Nov 16 vs. New England 8:30 PM – I will never pick New England over the Colts ever. If Teddy Bruschi, Randy Moss, Kevin Faulk, and Mike Vrabel return in their prime, I pick the Colts. Colts win, and I hope they score 70 damn points. Colts win and make it hurt. (7-3)
- Sun, Nov 23 vs. Jacksonville 1:00 PM – As good as two guaranteed wins are for playoff seeding purposes, these games are been-there, done-that monotony. There is no danger in taking the Jaguars too lightly because they are exactly as bad as expected every game. This begins an incredible four-game run against the four teams with the worst records in the NFL. This should be where the Colts begin their move to the front of the AFC class. Colts win. (8-3)
- Sun, Nov 30 vs. Washington 1:00 PM – Game two against the worst of the worst – at least in 2013. Who knows whether RG3 will be healthy at this point, or whether it will matter. Washington’s plight makes me wonder whether NY Knicks owner James Dolan and Redskins owner Daniel Snyder spend a lot of time commiserating and advising each other. Colts win. (9-3)
- Sun, Dec 7 at Cleveland 1:00 PM – The Browns are in irreversible turmoil, and depending upon whom they draft, this should be the third straight walkover for the Colts. If the Browns draft Johnny Manziel, that at least gives the Browns a chance to make plays and surprise someone. Manziel to Josh Gibson would be a bit of a headache for defensive coordinators. Colts win. (10-3)
- Sun, Dec 14 vs. Houston 1:00 PM – My God, stop the madness. Another game against a poorly manned team. Remember that the Texans weren’t always awful, and might awaken at some point – ah, who am I kidding? This game is a done deal if Andrew Luck and Robert Mathis remain ambulatory, and the Colts find someone to give Luck the ball (if Khaled Holmes isn’t the guy). Colts win. (11-3)
- Sun, Dec 21 at Dallas 4:25 PM – The Cowboys are going to finish the season 8-8 or within a game of it, and this tilt is on the road, so anything can happen, but Jerry’s boys should be easy pickins for the Colts. Frankly, I’m exhausted by looking at these meager rosters trying to find a way to predict a loss for the Colts here and there so I don’t look like a kook for picking them to run off 15 straight after losing the season opener. Colts win. (12-3)
- Sun, Dec 28 at Tennessee 1:00 PM – There is a legit chance that the Colts will have nothing to play for in this game and may sit the starters, so I am going to hedge my bet in week 17. If the Colts have already clinched home field throughout the playoffs, I pick the Titans to win. If the Colts are playing for something, they win. The Colts will end the season 13-3 or 12-4 depending upon the meaning of this game.