There are just under six months until the first NFL game of the season, as the Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings will play in the Hall of Fame game to kick off the preseason on August 9. As such, it's never too early to start looking ahead to the 2015 NFL season, and that includes the schedule.
While we don't know the exact schedule and when the games will be played, we do know the opponents that the Colts will play next season, which you can find here. With the opponents known, the strength of schedule can also be figured out based on the 2014 records, and that's exactly what John Breech of CBS Sports did.
Using 2014 records, Breech found that the Pittsburgh Steelers are projected to have the toughest schedule in the NFL next season, with an opponent win percentage of .579 based on last year's records. The Bengals, 49ers, Seahawks, and Cardinals round out the top five, while the Atlanta Falcons are projected to have the easiest schedule in the league next season based on 2014 records (with a .409 win percentage). The Indianapolis Colts? Based on 2014 records, they have the second-easiest schedule in the league next year.
The Colts' opponents next season went a combined 106-149-1 in 2014 (.417), putting their strength of schedule as the second-easiest among all teams. The other AFC South teams are all projected to have a pretty easy schedule, with the Texans having the third-easiest and then the Titans and Jaguars having the seventh and eighth easiest schedules.
This makes perfect sense, because in 2015 the AFC South (which was the worst division in the AFC in 2014) will play the NFC South (which was the worst division in the NFL in 2014). In fact, the eight easiest schedules in the NFL for next season are the eight teams of those two divisions. Only two of the eight teams finished with a winning record in 2014, and that was of course the Colts, who went 11-5 and made the AFC Championship game after two playoff victories, and the Texans, who went 9-7. So for the Colts, it means that ten games next season will be devoted to playing the two worst divisions in the league in 2014 - it's no wonder why their strength of schedule looks so easy right now.
But, with that said, while these strength of schedule rankings are fun to look at, they don't mean much. These teams aren't going to stay the same as last year, and for a number of them it'll be hard to get worse. As we know, the strength of schedule based on last year's records can wind up being pretty different from the actual strength of schedule. Teams like the Texans, Saints, Falcons, and Panthers should be improved, and then it'll be hard for teams like the Jaguars, Titans, and Buccaneers to be much worse. Home games against the Patriots, Broncos, and Saints, along with road games against the Dolphins and Steelers will surely be tough games for the Colts.
So, while this is fun to look at while there's not much else going on, let's wait and see how much the teams on the Colts' schedule are improved in 2015 before making statements about it being so easy. Based on the 2014 records, the Colts have the second-easiest strength of schedule in the league next year. But we won't know for sure until we actually get into the season.