INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts are supposed to have a lot of success this season based off their schedule -- at least on paper.
Yes, they play in the AFC South, one of the worst -- if not the worst -- divisions in the NFL. They also play the NFC South, which had a team with a losing record -- the Carolina Panthers -- win the division last season, and the AFC East, which only had the New England Patriots make the playoffs last season.
But each season brings changes to rosters.
We’re going to take a look at the Colts' week-by-week opponent for the 2015 season.
Today we take a look at the New England Patriots:
2014 record: 12-4
First-round draft pick: DT Malcolm Brown
Veteran subtractions: OLB Akeem Ayers, CB Brandon Browner, OG Dan Connolly, LS Danny Aiken, CB Darrelle Revis, OLB Jonathan Casillas, RB Shane Vereen, RB Stevan Ridley, DT Vince Wilfork, CB Alfonzo Dennard, LB Deontae Skinner, DE Michael Buchanan, CB Kyle Arrington
Area of concern for the Colts: To 30 other NFL teams, facing quarterback Tom Brady would be their biggest concern. Not so for the Colts, and this isn't a slight at Brady, a first-ballot Hall of Famer once he retires. It has more to do with the Colts' inability to stop New England's rushing game. It doesn’t matter who’s in the backfield taking handoffs from Brady -- Jonas Gray or LeGarrette Blount. I’ll never forget Colts owner Jim Irsay sitting in his suite during the NFL owners meetings last spring and running off the Patriots' rushing numbers against them in the past three games unsolicited and without a stat sheet in front of him. The Patriots have rushed for 657 yards against Indianapolis in the past three games. To no surprise, the Colts were blown out in all three of those games.
Now back to Brady. You can expect him to come out and try to have a career game against the Colts. Why wouldn't he? The Colts were the team that notified the NFL about the air in the footballs Brady used. Or as we all know it as: The start of Deflategate. This game will be Brady's first of the season if NFL commissioner Roger Goodell doesn’t reduce the quarterback’s current four-game suspension. You can expect fireworks in this game.
Area that favors the Colts: The Patriots have bottled up Andrew Luck and the rest of the Colts offense since he entered the league in 2012. But this is a different New England defense. The Patriots cut or lost their top three cornerbacks -- Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Kyle Arrington -- via free agency, and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork signed with Houston during the offseason. You can never discredit Patriots coach Bill Belichick's coaching ability, but it looks like New England -- on paper at least -- has taken a step back on defense. Now it's up to Luck to show that he's figured out a way to beat Belichick and his pesky defense.