Beware of Primetime? Projecting the Colts Regular Season Record
The Indianapolis Colts had their 2015 schedule revealed last night, and it’s one of the softer schedules in the league to say the least. Of course, the team has benefited in recent seasons from playing in the lowly AFC South; however, one of their divisional matchups is also against the NFC South, whose best team in the Carolina Panthers went 7-8-1 last season.
That doesn’t mean the Colts don’t have some tough matchups, as the team will have to face New England (Week 6), Denver (Week 9), and @Pittsburgh (Week 13) among some of their best competition. Still, by playing in the AFC South and with a not-so-difficult out of division schedule, the Colts are poised for at least another playoff appearance, maybe even homefield advantage.
Without further ado, here are my projections for their wins and losses for each week of this year’s schedule:
Final Record: 13-3
For convenience purposes, let’s cover the losses:
Week 6, New England Patriots (Sunday Night Football):
The Colts were manhandled by the New England Patriots in both of their matchups last year, having their season ended in embarrassing fashion, 45-7 in the AFC Championship game, against their arch-nemesis. In fact, the Colts are 0-4 against the Patriots in the Chuck Pagano era and have had 2 of their 3 seasons ended in playoff blowouts in Foxborough.
Dec 14, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates with head coach Bill Belichick (R) after clinching the AFC East title with a 41-13 win over the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
As it stands, it’s highly questionable whether the Colts have done enough to improve their run defense, where Patriots powerbacks have routinely gauged them for what’s been +150 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns each game. While the additions of defensive end Kendall Langford and inside linebacker Nate Irving figure to help matters, as well as the subtraction of LaRon Landry at safety, it doesn’t look to me like enough has been done, particularly in the defensive trenches.
That being said, the Colts still have the NFL Draft to get at least an impact defensive lineman or two (Florida State nose tackle Eddie Goldman would do wonders) and perhaps even a run-stopping upgrade at safety. However, as things look now, it looks to me like New England will do what they’ve always done to the Colts, run all over them. That could certainly change though, and hopefully it does.
When one factors in the brilliance of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady and their dominance of the Colts, and this one’s being chalked up as a loss right now.
Week 8, Carolina Panthers (Monday Night Football):
Not sure exactly why, but my gut has a bad feeling about this game. The Colts figure to drop at least one game to the NFC South, and with this one on the road and on primetime television, it has the makings of a potential loss. With Cam Newton and a typically strong running game behind the legs of Jonathan Stewart, the Colts could struggle a bit in this matchup, especially if Newton puts on his “Superman” cape. Not only that, but the Panthers feature a stout defense anchored by All-Pro inside linebacker Luke Kuechly.
If the Colts played the Saints on the road, that might be my choice. However, I like their odds against Drew Brees at home, they figure to win in an offensive shootout in Atlanta, and the Bucs don’t figure to pose much of a significant threat. The Panthers though, that could be a losing matchup on Monday Night Football on the road.
Aug 17, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) and running back Jonathan Stewart (28) celebrate after a touchdown by Stewart during the first half of the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports
Week 13, Pittsburgh Steelers (Sunday Night Football):
Not to be “Debbie Downer”, but this has all the makings of a loss. Pittsburgh is always a notoriously tough place to play, and the fact that this is on Sunday Night Football where the Terrible Towels will be waving faster only worsens matters.
When you factor in that the Colts surrendered 522 passing yards and 6 touchdowns to Ben Roethlisberger in a 51-34 defensive meltdown at Hines Field in Week 8 of last season, and this is the easiest loss to project on the Colts schedule, even over New England. It’s not all Big Ben that the Colts have to worry about either, as Le’Veon Bell is one of the best running backs in the game, and the Colts run defense often rears its ugly head.
Oct 26, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) gets rid of the ball while under pressure from Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons (94) during the second quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Toughest Game to Project: Week 5, Houston Texans (Thursday Night Football)
With Andre Johnson‘s return to Houston, this game figures to be packed with plenty of emotion. If it’s anything like last season’s wild Thursday Night matchup, then both Colts and Texans fans are in for a real treat, as the Colts managed to sneak out with a 33-28 win in Week 6.
If the Texans had done more at quarterback this offseason then adding Brian Hoyer, then this would probably be a loss all things considered. However, my money is on Johnson playing with a little bit of vengeance against his former team and having at least a touchdown or two in a close Colts victory.
Beware of Watt, Colts, Beware of Watt though.
Oct 9, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans receiver Andre Johnson (80) reacts after the game against the Indianapolis Colts at NRG Stadium. The Colts beat the Texans 33-28. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
In short the Colts may want to beware of primetime, as I currently have them losing 3 of their 5 matchups. However, it doesn’t mean that the Colts are necessarily afraid of the “bright lights”, it’s just that these are the games when they’re often playing against their premier opponents. Nevertheless, the Colts should expect to maintain their status quo as the toast of the AFC South, perhaps drop a game to the NFC South, lose in Pittsburgh, and boy, does that Week 6 matchup against New England ever loom large.
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