The Indianapolis Colts' 2021 schedule was released along with the rest of the NFL slate on Wednesday.
The 2021 NFL season will kick off on Thursday, Sept. 9 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosting the Dallas Cowboys (8:20 p.m. ET). ESPN’s Monday Night Football opener on Sept. 13 will feature the Las Vegas Raiders hosting the Baltimore Ravens (8:15 p.m. ET).
The NFL will change its schedule for the first time 44 years, expanding to 17 regular-season games. The final regular-season games will be played Jan. 9, 2022. The playoffs begin Jan. 15, 2022 and continue through Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13, 2022 at Los Angeles' SoFi Stadium.
Here's what in store for the Colts:
Sept. 12: vs. Seattle
Sept. 19: vs. LA Rams
Sept. 26: at Tennessee
Oct. 3: at Miami
Oct. 11: at Baltimore (MNF)
Oct. 17: vs. Houston
Oct. 24: at San Francisco (SNF)
Oct. 31: vs. Tennessee
Nov. 4: vs. NY Jets (TNF)
Nov. 14: vs. Jacksonville
Nov. 21: at Buffalo
Nov. 28: vs. Tampa Bay
Dec. 5: at Houston
Dec. 12: Bye
Dec. 18 or 19: vs. New England
Dec. 25 (Sat.): at Arizona
Jan. 2: vs. Las Vegas
Jan. 8 or 9: at Jacksonville
Strength of schedule (hardest to easiest): T-23rd, .478
It's bad enough that the Colts have not won a Week 1 game since 2013, and now they're about to open the season with four of their first five opponents being playoff teams from last season. The Seahawks, Rams, Titans, Dolphins (who missed the playoffs) and Ravens combined for a .675 winning percentage last season. There shouldn't be much dropoff from any of those teams this season, either, as each -- with the exception of Seattle -- improved its roster in the offseason. The last time the Colts won a Week 1 game was when they beat the Raiders 21-17, with the game played at Lucas Oil Stadium, which is where they'll open their season against the Seahawks.
One question that needs to be answered
Will the Colts, who have four prime-time games, get the 2020 Carson Wentz who struggled, or will coach Frank Reich get the new starting QB back in a groove? That's been the question since the Colts acquired Wentz from Philadelphia in the winter. Wentz was benched in favor of Jalen Hurts after being sacked 50 times and throwing 15 interceptions in just 12 games last season. One of Reich's biggest challenges will be getting Wentz back on track mentally and physically. The pair spent two seasons together in Philadelphia when Reich was Wentz's offensive coordinator. Eyes on the outside and inside the Colts' organization will be on Wentz all season. Indianapolis hopes he will bring stability to the quarterback position after Andrew Luck's retirement in 2019. Wentz will be the Colts' fifth different Week 1 starter -- Scott Tolzien, Luck, Jacoby Brissett, Philip Rivers -- in as many seasons.
What Vegas thinks
The oddsmakers have the Colts' win total at 10. They are a better team on paper than the one that won 11 games in 2020, but 10 victories seems about right for them based off their schedule. The NFC West is loaded after the additions of quarterback Matthew Stafford to the Rams and defensive end J.J. Watt, who has a history of causing havoc for Colts quarterbacks, going to Arizona. The good thing is, though, 10 victories could still be good enough to get the Colts to the playoffs.
The Colts will beat Tom Brady in a game for the first time since Peyton Manning was the franchise quarterback. The Colts have lost nine straight meetings -- including two in the playoffs -- to Brady, with each loss occurring when he played with the New England Patriots. Indianapolis hasn't beaten Brady since Nov. 15, 2009.