Earlier this past week, the NFL announced their preseason schedule for the 2014 season. I was in Florida on vacation with the family (we had a great time) when it was announced, but am back now and am ready to ramp up the draft coverage here on Stampede Blue as we are now less than a month away. First, however, let's take a quick look at the Colts preseason schedule because, well, let's face it - we're all football starved and can't wait for games to actually start, even if it's just preseason.
Below is the Colts 2014 preseason schedule, along with my analysis of the matchup:
Week One: at New York Jets, August 7-10 (date TBD)
The Colts take the road to open the preseason in Met Life Stadium against the New York Jets. It will be the first time we get to see Michael Vick in a Jets uniform and, along with Geno Smith, it will be good for the Colts defense to see mobile quarterback play right off the bat, as they have struggled against it in the past. It will also be the first chance we have to see newly acquired Colts such as Arthur Jones, Hakeem Nicks, and the rookies, among others - plus some of the guys who were injured in 2013 might return in this game too. The last time the Colts and the Jets played was in the regular season in 2012, the week after the huge, season changing comeback win over the Packers in the ChuckStrong game. Against the Jets that year, however, the Colts got blown out in Met Life Stadium 35-9. In one last interesting note, this game will pit two former Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinators against each other in Jets head coach Rex Ryan and Colts head coach Chuck Pagano. In the preseason, this is the second matchup ever between these two teams with the Jets holding the 1-0 edge with a 31-7 win in the 2004 preseason.
Week Two: vs. New York Giants, August 14-18 (date TBD)
Colts vs. Giants doesn't mean what it used to mean (the Manning Bowl), but it's still a matchup of two talented teams. The Colts first home game of the 2014 season is against the New York Giants, their second straight preseason game against a New York team. Newly signed Colts wide receiver Hakeem Nicks will play against his former team and even though it's just a preseason game it will be interesting in that aspect. The Colts and the Giants played last preseason in New York in the second preseason game, with the Colts winning 20-12. That was the game where Reggie Wayne made the incredibly memorable touchdown off of the deflected (dropped) interception attempt by Giants cornerback Aaron Ross. Yeah, just because it's awesome and it's a chance to talk about it, watch it again here. All time, the Colts hold an 8-5 preseason record against the Giants.
Week Three: vs. New Orleans Saints, Saturday August 23 (nationally televised on CBS)
Easily the highlight of the Colts preseason schedule (and one of the highlights of the entire NFL preseason schedule) is the week three matchup when the New Orleans Saints come to town. The third preseason game is the one in which the starters typically play into the third quarter and see by far their most playing time. Luckily, it's against one of the NFL's best teams and one of the NFL's best passing offenses. Drew Brees and his passing attack comes to Indianapolis in what will no doubt be a huge test for the Colts secondary - one which, at the moment, has an apparent hole at free safety and some doubts about the rest of it too. Additionally, what about the pass rush - can they actually get enough pressure to disrupt an elite quarterback? It will be a great test for the team all around but especially for the defense, and while the result won't matter either way in the big picture, it could give us and the Colts a lot confidence or a lack thereof depending on the performance. Oh, and did I mention that it will be nationally televised on CBS on Saturday August 23 from Lucas Oil Stadium? The Colts have yet to play the Saints in either the regular season or the preseason in the Andrew Luck era, with the last matchup between the Colts and Saints coming in the horrendous 62-7 embarrassment in New Orleans in the 2011 season that led to Andrew Luck's arrival in Indianapolis. The Colts are 7-5 all time in the preseason against the Saints.
Week Four: at Cincinnati Bengals, Thursday August 28
Filed under the 'least surprising news' category is the fact that the Colts and the Bengals will once again play in the preseason finale. The Colts and the Bengals have played in every preseason since the 2001 season and in all but one of them the matchup has come in the final preseason game. The Colts are 4-9 in the preseason against the Bengals during that stretch but have won 3 of the last 4 in the most meaningless preseason game of all. That said, however, this is a huge game for players on the bubble as this is where they get their final shot at making the roster. Sometimes, if we're lucky, this translates to a game that is actually manageable to watch, despite the fact that the starters don't play. This game will most likely feature a lot of Matt Hasselbeck and Chandler Harnish and is the final shot for many bubble players. Beyond that, however, this game doesn't mean much other than furthering the series of Colts vs. Bengals in the final preseason game. The last real matchup against the Bengals came last season, when the Colts lost 42-28 in a game that was closer than the score actually indicates. All time, the Bengals lead the preseason series with a 14-8 record.
Can't wait for football? You're not alone. The preseason schedule has been announced and the regular season schedule will follow shortly. At the very least, we'll know the schedule. That means it's getting closer - though it still seems way too far away.