After all, they appear to have improved at quarterback following the Carson Wentz trade, which should go a long way towards elevating their overall ceiling.
Not only that, but their rushing attack should be more balanced and the defense, depending on who they add as an edge rusher, figures to build upon a breakout year.
Unfortunately for Indy, however, their schedule for next campaign confirms they’ll have their work cut out for them if they want to qualify for the postseason.
While the Colts should still be able to handle their business, schedule makers clearly didn’t have their best interests at heart when they were putting it all together.
Taking that into account, let’s delve into a breakdown of their incredibly difficult slate.
Colts fans might vomit looking at the team’s unforgiving 2021 schedule.
As always, the Colts will have a home-and-home against the AFC South. On paper, the matchups against Houston and Jacksonville should be cake walks. However, if Deshaun Watson isn’t traded this offseason — it’s looking increasingly probable that he’ll stay put — last year proved those games won’t be easy.
The Jaguars, who’ve quietly had a solid free agent spending spree, won’t be a pushover either assuming they draft Trevor Lawrence first overall. As for the Titans, well, those showdowns are almost always one-score bloodbaths.
In terms of the out-of-division schedule, here’s a quick home/road breakdown.
- Home: Patriots, Jets, Seahawks, Rams, Ravens and Buccaneers
- Road: Bills, Dolphins, Cardinals, 49ers and Raiders
The last thing we want to do is strike fear into Colts fans, but this is an absolute gauntlet of fixtures. Out of all those teams, you could argue that only the Seahawks and Raiders haven’t improved this offseason, and Seattle will once again be in contention assuming they don’t trade star quarterback Russell Wilson.
We don’t have to give a complete analysis on the other teams, but it goes without saying that each one of New England, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Buffalo, Miami, Arizona and San Francisco ranks as one of the most talented teams in the league, and all but two of them boast exceptional quarterback play on a weekly basis.
The NFL is extremely balanced compared to recent seasons, but the Colts would’ve been much happier if they were scheduled to face the NFC East or NFC North. And, of course, the one team they drew in the NFC South was the defending champion Buccaneers in Week 17, right? That game could have colossal implications if things come down to the final week.
The one area Indianapolis lucked out in, if you can even call it that, is that their toughest games will be at home. However, their west coast road trip is nothing to sniff at, especially when you consider that stadiums could be at full capacity by the start of next season.
The Colts had the luxury of playing a reasonably soft schedule in 2020, and that rarely happens two years in a row for a team that finished in the top half of its division and made the playoffs.
If fans were disgruntled that GM Chris Ballard is hoarding cap space before the schedule reveal, we don’t even want to fathom their collective rage after they took a gander at Indy’s daunting 17-game slate next season.