The Colts play 5 prime time games starting with a Monday night clash with at Miami in week 2. They have to play 4 of the five night games on the road, including @Arizona, @Tennessee, and @Jacksonville (Thursday night). They do get the Pats at home at night on Sunday, November 15th.
Indy has two potential bad weather games. The first is at Baltimore, November 22nd. The second is a season ender at Buffalo.
Here’s a game by game look. Any predictions are incredibly tenuous as the draft hasn’t even happened yet…
Week One: Jaguars Win
The Jags weren’t very good last year, and if not for a combination of a stupid throw by Manning and awful officiating, the Colts should have swept. They’ll beat the Jags at home by a good margin next year.
Week Two: @Miami MNF Win
This will be a good early season test for the run defense. The truth is that the 2008 Dolphins weren’t actually that good of a team. They beat up on an easy schedule and got waxed in the playoffs. I think this a game that looks harder on paper than it will be on the field.
Week Three: @Arizona SNF Loss
Again, the Cardinals were a bit of a house of cards (har har) last year. Depending one what happens with the Boldin situation, the Cards might be significantly worse next year. Playing them on a short week after a physical Monday Night game is no picknic.
Week Four: Seattle Win
If the Colts run into any trouble in the first three weeks, they’ll get healthy fast with this game. My bet is the Horse is off and running at 3-1
Week Five: @Titans SNF Loss
The Titans and Colts have split their games for 3 straight years. They’ve earned the benefit of the doubt at home.
Week Six: @Rams Win
Coming off a bye, the Horse rolls.
Week Seven: SF Win
The 49ers don’t have a QB yet, and whoever it is won’t knock off the Colts on the road
Week Eight: Texans Win
I’m not picking Houston at Indy until they actually manage to win in Indy at least once. Ever.
Week Nine: Patriots SNF Win
This is the big game, isn’t it? It’s number one on every list of must watch games. Unless Brady isn’t really healthy…
Week Ten: @Baltimore Win
This is obviously a tough back to back, but the Colts have owned the Ravens for years now. I think Flacco wasn’t as good as people thought he was. Weather could be a factor in this game.
Week Eleven: @Texans Loss
There have to be losses somewhere on the schedule, and the Colts Texans games at Houston are always brutal. The ball bounces their way this day.
Week Twelve: Titans Win
This should prove to be a huge game, and the Colts take it to all but lock up the division at 9-3.
Week Thirteen: Denver Win
This may be the single easiest game on the board.
Week Fourteen: @Jaguars Win
We all remember what happened last year. Del Rio is likely fired by this point.
Week Fifteen: New York Jets Win
This team has no QB, and won’t win in Indy without one
Week Sixteen: @Buffalo Loss
With a bye locked up, the Colts aren’t going to risk anyone on a frozen Buffalo turf.
So there you have it, I see 12-4 (again) for the Horse next year. Of course all this is predicated on the offensive line actually being healthy. If the line plays better, this team will be at the top of the AFC again. The defense seems poised to to leap back up into the top 5; and the unabated streak of injuries has to stop at some point. A worst case (non-Manning injury) scenario is somewhere around 9-7 and would involve an injury to Wayne, Gonzo, or Clark and the loss of Freeney or Mathis.
FO looks at the running back by committee trend, with a special note on the 2006 Colts.
Kuharsky asked fans what starter should be replaced. The answer…Joe Addai. Apparently, there are a lot of stupid people out there who would rather see Mike Hart and Lance Ball or Dom Rhodes start. They are patently insane. One reader tried to use Peyton’s MVP season as evidence the line was good in 2008! The last time the Colts had any semblance of a healthy O line was the first half of the Pats/Colts game in 2007. Joe Addai was the best player on the field that day. Since then, the line has been horrible and Joe has struggled. I know, it’s old news here, but I still marvel at the stuff people say. I’m all for the Colts taking a RB early in this draft, but not because I’m down on Addai. Ultimately, the line will have to improve or the Colts run game will go no where…no matter who totes the rock.