Breakdown: The Colts look to have a favorable start and finish to their 2013 slate. They open against Oakland, against Miami, at San Francisco and at Jacksonville. We know teams can make major jumps in one season, just as the Colts did last year. But our reference point is last season. And while the 49ers are the defending NFC champions, the other three teams combined for 13 wins in 2012 and certainly appear beatable.
Indianapolis’ final two games are at Kansas City and against Jacksonville. A road trip to Arrowhead Stadium in the dead of winter is never easy, and the Chiefs are likely to be far better at the end of their first season under Andy Reid than at the start. Still, they were the worst team in the league in 2012. The Jaguars were the other two-win team. The top two picks in the draft, providing neither team trades back, will be at the end of their initial seasons. They could be worn down or they could have found a rhythm.
Complaint department: The Colts get an unfair deal in advance of what may qualify as the NFL’s regular-season game of the year. Sunday night football On Oct. 20 should be a huge ratings game as Peyton Manning returns to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis with the Denver Broncos.
Indy will be recovering from a West Coast road trip on a short week for "Monday Night Football" at San Diego. The Broncos, meanwhile, will be coming off a home game against Jacksonville. It’s not exactly an even Week 6, but these sorts of things happen and the Colts will have to be ready even if they won’t be as well rested as the Broncos.
Favorable division rematches: The Colts’ second games against each of their AFC South opponents come in the final five weeks of the season and are all at home. Indianapolis hosts the Titans in Week 13, the Texans in Week 15 and the Jaguars in Week 17. That Texans game could be crucial for deciding the division crown and the Colts have a huge advantage. Houston has lost all 11 times it’s played in Indianapolis.
In all, five of Indianapolis’ last nine games are against AFC South teams.
Colts Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 8, Oakland, 1 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 15, Miami, 1 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 22, at San Francisco, 4:25 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 29, at Jacksonville, 1 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 6, Seattle, 1 p.m.
Week 6: Monday, Oct. 14, at San Diego, 8:30 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 20, Denver, 8:30 p.m.
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 3, at Houston, 8:30 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 10, St. Louis, 1:00 p.m.
Week 11: Thursday, Nov. 14, at Tennessee, 8:25 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 24, at Arizona, 4:05 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 1, Tennessee, 1 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 8, at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 15, Houston, 1 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 22, at Kansas City, 1 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 29, Jacksonville, 1 p.m.