Indianapolis Colts open 2017 with seven of eight games against non-playoff teams

Andrew Luck and the Colts have the easiest strength of schedule heading into the 2017 season. Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The NFL has released its 2017 regular-season schedule. Here’s a look at what’s in store for the Indianapolis Colts.

Breakdown: All eyes will be on coach Chuck Pagano when the Colts open the season. That's because they have started 0-2 for three consecutive years. A fourth straight 0-2 start will put a lot of pressure on Pagano, who likely has to prove to new general manager Chris Ballard that he's the right person to lead the team going forward. The Colts have an opportunity to get off to a strong start because seven of their first eight games are against teams that missed the playoffs last season. Their toughest stretch, on paper at least, is when they play at Houston, home against Pittsburgh (a team against which Pagano is 0-3), and against Tennessee Nov. 5-26, with a bye between the Steelers and Titans.

Facing the NFC West early: The Colts will face all four NFC West teams in the first five weeks of the season, starting with the Rams. Indianapolis last faced the division in 2013, going 2-2 against its members. The marquee game in that stretch will be a Sunday-nighter at Seattle in Week 4. It's the perfect prime-time matchup because it will feature Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson, the two star quarterbacks from the 2012 draft, and the Colts' receivers, led by T.Y. Hilton, going against Seattle's aggressive cornerbacks. Of course, there's some chance the Seahawks will have traded Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman by then.

Division title game in Week 17: There's probably no better way for the Colts to end the regular season than a New Year's Eve game at home against the Houston Texans, which could be for the AFC South title and an automatic playoff berth. The Texans have come into Indianapolis and essentially won the AFC South by beating the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in each of the past two Decembers. It was Brandon Weeden who beat the Colts in December 2015, then the Brock Osweiler-led Texans that beat them last December. Those two victories came after Houston had never won in Indianapolis.

Strength of schedule: 32nd, .424

Colts regular-season schedule (All times Eastern)

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

  • Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 17, Arizona, 1 p.m.

  • Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 24, Cleveland, 1 p.m.

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

  • Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 8, San Francisco, 1 p.m.

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

  • Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 22, Jacksonville, 1 p.m.

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

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

  • Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 12, Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.

  • Week 11: BYE

  • Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 26, Tennessee, 1 p.m.

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

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

  • Week 15: Thursday, Dec. 14, Denver, 8:25 p.m.

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

  • Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 31, Houston, 1 p.m.