Guest Post: Which 2013 Indianapolis Colts Games Will Be Nationally Televised?

Please once again welcome guest writer Jacob Lewin for his third piece for Colts Authority. He previously wrote about fan jersey ettiquette and the future of Austin Collie. You can find Jacob on Twitter at @jelewin. -KJR

The draft is three weeks away, the season is just around the corner, and after reading Josh Wilson’s article, “The Top 5 Most Anticipated Colts Games in 2013,” I decided to make a predictification, of sorts, and predict which games the NFL and corporate broadcasters will likely choose for primetime games this season.  This is especially of interest for me, as a Colts fan displaced in New York City, where I struggle to find ways to watch Colts games, and relish the opportunity to watch with comfort and ease.  Although the official schedule will be released on April 16th, I just couldn’t wait, and had to write this out.

As of last season, every team will get a slot on Thursday Night Football, so we know at least one game will be televised and that it will be on Thursday night.  For the past five years, the Colts have played a division rival on Thursday Night Football (2012 – @JAX, 27-10; 2011 – v. HOU, 19-16; 2010 – @ TEN, 30-28; 2009 – @JAX, 35-31; 2008 – @JAX, 31-24), so it’s likely that in 2013, the Colts will be playing another division-rival on Thursday Night. 

And hey, did you notice how the Colts won all five of those games, even during the forgettable 2011 season? For those who may not remember that Colts-Texans game, Dan Orlovsky’s game winning drive might have been the sole feel-good moment of that whole season, which kept the Colts shut-out of the Texans alive.  Looking back, that really was a triumphant moment.

Generally a team will “max out” with 5 scheduled nationally televised games, and this is generally reserved for the NFL fan-favorites (clearly, to draw in top ratings).  Although the Colts made a nice run last year, they are not yet a national fan favorite like the Patriots, Giants, Cowboys or Broncos (thanks to Mr. Manning) just yet, so I predict they will only land three nationally televised, primetime games. Below, you will find that I have predicted four games that can/should/could be set for primetime, although it is likely that only three will be scheduled.

Before I make my predictions, be aware of the Colts opponents for the 2013 season (at least the NFL releases the Home/Away Schedule by now)

Home: Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins, St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks

Away: Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers, Cincinatti Bengals, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers

And without further adieu:

1.       Indianapolis Colts v. Tennessee Titans – As stated above, the Colts will play a Thursday Night game, and it will likely be against the Titans. This prediction is a function of a simple pattern: Colts played Jacksonville last year, Houston the year before and Tennessee the year before that. It just makes sense that the NFL will place them against the Titans to complete this cycle.  I predict this game will take place anytime between Week 9 and Week 14, and because I am basing this completely on the aforementioned pattern, I think it will be at home: Last year the TNF game was away, and in 2011, the Colts’ TNF game was at home. Sheer elegance in its simplicity.

2.       Indianapolis Colts v. Denver Broncos – DUH!!!! Arguably the most highly anticipated game in the history of all Football lore, and all that is good and holy. Okay…maybe not that much. But since Peyton was released, most football fans pondered the eventual day that Peyton Manning would return to Indianapolis (“The House That Peyton Built”) and to face-off with his old team.  Surely, this is guaranteed Sunday Night Football material, and I’m ecstatic that the NFL schedule-makers decided to schedule this game in Indianapolis as opposed to Denver. 

I am sure Peyton will get a rousing applause from the crowd, that many people with Peyton Manning Colts Jerseys (whatever!) and a home-team crowd that will root hard for Indy to come up with a win.  Not only does this game have a loaded story line, If Indianapolis gets a W on National TV against its formal hero, it will solidify the Colts’ reputation as a force to be reckoned with.

3.Indianapolis Colts v. Seattle Seahawks – The clash of the 2012 Quarterback Class Titans.  This has all the makings of a great matchup: on the one hand there is Andrew Luck, the #1 overall pick in 2012, who was drafted to start and save a franchise (so far, he has) and improbably took a team to the playoffs, but ultimately suffered a loss. On the other hand, Russell Wilson, undersized and passed-over until the 3rd round, fought to win a starting role and nevertheless led his team to wild card playoff win, and was seconds away from winning a divisional playoff game.

These are both talented ballclubs, with great leaders, and it will be a chance for Luck to shine on national TV, show his stuff against a fellow quarterback of the 2012 class, and to line up against a team with a premiere defense who he may one day meet again in the big dance.  A great matchup for two, young, hungry teams, which should not be missed, and I think the NFL will likely put this game in primetime in order to kill two pigs with one bird and showcase these two QBs at once.  I could see this as a MNF game, possibly on Sunday Night Football, but I find that hard to predict – it’s not a clear slam dunk like it is with DEN @ IND which will obviously be on Sunday Night – I’d bet my weight in gold on that.

4.(If we’re lucky…Indianapolis Colts @ San Francisco 49ers) – There are a lot of good connections in this game and each make a great storyline for a primetime matchup. First, Jim Harbaugh was Andrew Luck’s coach and mentor at Stanford, and worked with Pep Hamilton (Colts current OC) as well.  Second, Jim Harbaugh was the first true Indianapolis Colts icon and has since been inducted into the Colts’ Ring of Honor. Sure, Eric Dickerson played for the Colts in 1987, and he was one helluva player, but until that miraculous 1995 season, the Colts were never a significant presence in the AFC. Marcus Dugan wrote a great article back in January on Jim Harbaugh hero-worship, and while I cannot speak for other older fans (crazy, I’m not even 30 and I am saying that), but that season is why I grew to love and care about the Colts. 

History runs further deep between these two ball clubs as Jim Mora’s famous “PLAYOFFS??!!?” rant  came in the postgame of a Colts-49ers game in 2001 where the Colts lost after Peyton Manning threw four interceptions.  And finally, don’t forget that the Colts just signed Ricky Jean-Francois, who did not regularly start in San Francisco, and this will be his chance to show what they are missing. 

Indeed, this game has it all: history, connections, revenge (sorta) and two very strong teams headed by young QBs.  It realistically should be crowned as a prime-time game, however, I think it may get the fuzzy-end of the lollipop, as the Colts-Seahawks game has the marquis “Class of 2012” matchup.  Despite all the nice connections in the Niners-Colts game, if the league is stuck and can only allot three prime-time games to Indianapolis, the Indy-Seattle game will likely win the day. 


Kyle J. Rodriguez

About Kyle J. Rodriguez

A film and numbers guru, Kyle writes about the NFL and the Indianapolis Colts for Bleacher Report, Draft Mecca and The Football Educator, and is a co-founder and associate editor of Colts Authority. Kyle also is a high school sports reporter for the MLive Media Group in Michigan, covering high school sports across the state.