The official NFL 2017 schedule has been released and now we have a little more information to look over as we await the draft and then the long period until we have real football. We will take a look at some of the more notable games in this season, as well as make some totally useless predictions that will undoubtedly be thwarted by the draft as well as injury. So let’s dive in!
Colts 2017 Schedule
Week One – @Rams
Week Two – Cardinals
Week Three – Browns
Week Four – @Seahawks
Week Five – 49ers
Week Six – @Titans
Week Seven – Jaguars
Week Eight – @Bengals
Week Nine – @Texans
Week Ten – Steelers
Week Eleven – Bye
Week Twelve – Titans
Week Thirteen – @Jaguars
Week Fourteen – @Bills
Week Fifteen -Broncos
Week Sixteen – @Ravens
Week Seventeen – Texans
Taking a quick look at the schedule it seems that the Colts have been gifted with what should be a pretty easy schedule on paper. As we know, however, that doesn’t always translate once the season gets going.
Without the benefit of knowing which players the Colts will draft next week, I can still say I feel confident that there will be a substantial improvement on both lines. The offensive line began to gel as the year went along last year and will be looking at year two in the same offense and under the teaching of Joe Philbin. I think we can expect the Colts to pick up a running back in the draft at some point, and that will allow them to utilize the run game more while they continue to grow. It will also give some pause to defenses rather than letting them key off on the pass and put Luck on the ground.
They have invested in a major way in the front seven of the defense even before the draft and I would expect the draft to continue that pattern. Johnathan Hankins gives them the first true nose tackle that Pagano has had since switching the Colts to a 3-4 when he arrived and Henry Anderson will be even further removed from his ACL tear and looking to improve upon his great play during his rookie season. Look for the defensive unit to be much improved and remember that even if they are able to become mediocre it puts the Colts in the conversation as a playoff team.
There are several games that are definitely worth marking your calendar for, even though most of the teams on the Colts schedule didn’t have great seasons last season. The Colts home opener against the Cardinals in week two will be the return of Bruce Arians to Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts hope to fare better against a team that beat them up pretty badly in their last matchup. This will be the first test to see if the Colts have improved their pass rush, as Arians
The Colts home opener against the Cardinals. In week two we will see the return of Bruce Arians to Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts hope to fare better against a team that beat them up pretty badly in their last matchup. This will be the first test to see if the Colts have improved their pass rush, as Arians likes to air it out and that means giving the QB time.
Week four in Seattle. This will likely represent a tough matchup as the Seahawks always play well at home but will be a very good measuring stick for the offensive line against a tough defense. It also represents one of their few prime time games so it would be nice to see them shine on a bigger stage.
Week ten against the Steelers. This will be a chance to get that black and gold monkey off their back. The Steelers have beaten the Colts more consistently than anyone other than the Patriots and if you are a Colts fan you are just begging them to end that streak. This one is at home and I do think the Colts will be better this season, but if Martavis Bryant is reinstated as expected, the Steelers offense might be the best in the NFL. It would be great to see the Colts step up here, but my gut says this one is a disappointment.
Week sixteen against the Ravens. This could be an interesting game as the Colts and the Ravens both may find themselves making a push to secure a playoff spot. I believe the Ravens are a team on the rise, and with this one taking place in Baltimore they will be a tough team to beat.
Week seventeen against the Texans. The past two years the Colts have faced the Texans in games late in the season with playoff implications. This might not be the sexiest matchup on paper, but if history is any indicator, it will likely be an important one.
I’ve seen enough in the offseason and through the end of last season to believe that the Colts will be a much-improved team this year. If Luck heals properly from his surgery and the defense improves over their abysmal performance last season, we should expect them to look like a playoff caliber team. However, I don’t think we can view this team as having arrived just yet. As much as my inner fan will want to declare them the returning kings of the AFC South and prepare myself for a deep playoff run, I think tempering our expectations is more reasonable.
I am predicting a 10-6 record for the season, despite significant improvements in the quality of play. Don’t forget, Jacksonville and Tenessee have both made big strides, and if the Texans managed to draft a guy who unexpectedly shines (think Dak Prescott), this division is suddenly very tough. I have them splitting wins in the division and losing to Seattle, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore. There will be plenty of time to revisit the possible outcomes as the season gets closer, but that’s my pre-draft prediction. If I’m right, you’ll never hear the end of it. If I’m wrong, I’ll delete this post and disavow that it ever happened. Only kidding (probably).