This is Indy's 2nd conference game; they're 1-0 thus far. Last year, against teams outside their division (in their conference), Indy went 4-2; to improve on that this year, they'll have to beat Oakland (check), Miami, San Diego, and Kansas City … or Cincinnati … or Denver. No matter how you slice it, Indy has a much tougher conference set this year, and needs a win this week to stay on last year's pace.
The Colts will be playing a single divisional game before their bye – in Jacksonville, week 4 – and, despite the Jag's week one debacle, it won't be a given. The key is to be above .500 before they play Houston, because the second half of the season is set to be a lot easier.
That will mean going 3-3 from this week on; with the Jags and Dolphins, Indy could win against San Diego and still go 0-3 against Denver, Seattle, and San Francisco. Only the latter of the three will be on the road.
With a win, Indy will be on pace to enter their bye 4-3 or 5-2. A win in San Francisco – with the latter coming off a tough game in Seattle – seems unlikely, but getting one isn't out of the question. Remember, Indy went 3-1 against the NFC North last year, beating Green Bay and Minnesota. In any case, a win this week will turn week 5 into a 3-1 vs. 4-0 debate.
With a loss, Indy will be in panic mode. Barely beating Oakland, going 1-1 in the first two home games, and about to travel to San Fran in week three, the Colts will be on their heels against one of the toughest teams in the league. Stumbling into a 2-2 record isn't bad, but if Indy can barely beat the Raiders (and can't beat the Dolphins), who's to say that Jacksonville won't have a shot?
… in other words, it's only week two – but this is a game Indy needs if they want to escape the first half of their schedule in good shape.