2017 Indianapolis Colts game-by-game predictions

The Colts have gone from being accustomed to making the playoffs with quarterback Andrew Luck during his first three seasons to finishing with an 8-8 record and having to watch the playoffs from home the past two seasons. The task of getting the Colts back to the playoffs no longer sits with Ryan Grigson. Grigson is gone and it’s now Chris Ballard’s responsibility to get the Colts back on track.

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 10, at Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m. ET

The Colts can quickly squash any thoughts of starting 0-2 for the fourth straight year against the Rams, who finished 4-12 last season. The Colts hope there won’t be any rust for Luck, whose return date from offseason surgery is still up in the air. Record: 1-0

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 17, vs. Arizona Cardinals, 1 p.m. ET

This is coach Chuck Pagano vs. Bruce Arians Part II. Arians led the Colts to a 9-3 record when Pagano was battling cancer in 2012. Arians’ Cardinals beat the Colts 40-11 in 2013. The Cardinals beat the Colts again. Record: 1-1.

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 24, vs. Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m. ET

The Colts haven’t started with a 2-1 record since the 2013 season. Facing the Browns, who have the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, put them in position to be above .500. Record: 2-1

Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 1, at Seattle Seahawks, 8:30 p.m. ET

This could end up being the Colts’ biggest nondivisional game of the season. Luck and Seattle’s Russell Wilson, the two best quarterbacks taken in the 2012 draft. Indy’s receivers vs. Seattle’s aggressive secondary. The Seahawks are at home and they avenge their 2013 loss to Indianapolis. Record: 2-2

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 8, vs. San Francisco 49ers, 1 p.m. ET

Running back Frank Gore faces the team he spent the first 10 years of his NFL career with. Gore may not rush for 100 yards against the 49ers, but he’ll make his presence felt. Record: 3-2

Week 6: Monday, Oct. 16, at Tennessee Titans, 8:30 p.m. ET

Luck has had to lead the Colts from behind to beat the Titans in each of their last two trips to Tennessee. The Colts have won 11 straight against the Titans. That streak ends on this night. Record: 3-3

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 22, vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m. ET

The Colts have won four straight against the Jaguars in Indianapolis. Luck had to lead them from behind in Week 17 last season to avoid having the first losing season of his NFL career. This will be a close one again, but Luck will prove what a franchise quarterback is while Blake Bortles continues to struggle. Record: 4-3

Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 29, at Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m. ET

The Bengals are in a transition period after they missed the playoffs last season. The pressure is on Bengals coach Marvin Lewis. It’ll be on him even more after the Colts go on the road for the victory. Record: 5-3

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 5, at Houston Texans, 1 p.m. ET

The Colts don’t need a reminder about what happened the last time they played in Houston. They blew a 14-point lead in the final five minutes and lost to the Texans in overtime in October 2016. The Colts won't blow another double-digit lead, but they also won't beat the Texans. Record: 5-4

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 12, vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 p.m. ET

Is this the time that Pagano and Luck (0-3) get their first victory against the Steelers? Nope. Not as long as Ben Roethlisberger is still Pittsburgh’s quarterback. Roethlisberger has thrown for 1,107 yards with 13 touchdowns, no interceptions and no sacks in the past three games against Indianapolis. Record: 5-5

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 26, vs. Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m. ET

The Colts’ 11-game winning streak against the Titans ended in October. Indianapolis starts another streak against its AFC South foe. Record: 6-5

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 3, at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m. ET

The last two "road" games at Jacksonville have been less than memorable for the Colts. They were blown out by 35 points in December 2015 and couldn’t come back from an early double-digit deficit against them in London in last October. The Jaguars make it three straight "home" victories over the Colts. Record: 6-6

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 10, at Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m. ET

The Bills blitzed, blitzed and blitzed Luck to the tune of two interceptions, two sacks and a number of quarterback hits when these two teams faced each other in Week 1 in 2015. Rex Ryan is gone and the Bills are in a in transition period. Luck gets his revenge against Buffalo. Record: 7-6

Week 15: Thursday, Dec. 14, vs. Denver Broncos, 8:25 p.m. ET

Luck is 2-0 against the Broncos in Indianapolis and the suspense behind this game is not the same now that Peyton Manning is retired. The Broncos aren’t the same defensive team as in the past and there are still questions about the quarterback situation in Denver. Luck moves to 4-2 overall against Denver. Record: 8-6.

Week 16: Saturday, Dec. 23, at Baltimore Ravens, 4:30 p.m. ET

The Colts need this victory to stay in contention for the AFC South title. Pagano goes on the road and beats his former coach ,John Harbaugh, setting the stage for a key game against Houston in Week 17. Record: 9-6

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 31, vs. Houston Texans, 1 p.m. ET

The Colts have basically lost the AFC South to the Texans at home in Lucas Oil Stadium in each of the past two seasons after Houston had never won in Indianapolis. The Texans make it three straight victories over the Colts in Indy. Record: 9-7