The Indianapolis Colts' 2015 schedule was officially released tonight, and you can see the entire schedule here. One of the most common ways of looking at the schedule is as it pertains to storylines, and so we're going to do just that. Here are five of the top storylines for the Colts' 2015 season:
Andre Johnson Returns to Houston
In week five, on Thursday Night Football, the Indianapolis Colts will travel to Houston to take on the division rival Texans. Last year's matchup in Houston was also a Thursday night game, but in that contest, Andre Johnson was playing for the Texans. This year, however, he'll be playing for the Colts. The greatest player in Texans franchise history will be making his return to Houston as a member of the opposing team. It will likely be an emotional game both for Johnson and for Texans fans.
Colts vs. Patriots. In Primetime. Again.
Ten days after the Colts travel to Houston for a primetime game, they return home to host the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football. This will be a rematch of last season's AFC Championship game and figures to be a matchup of the two best teams in the AFC. More than that, however, the Colts will look to defeat the Patriots (or even be close) for the first time in the Andrew Luck era after some embarrassing performances, particularly defensively. It will be the 17th time in 13 seasons that the Colts and Patriots will play and it will be on primetime once again. The Colts will be looking to notch a win over New England for the first time since a Sunday Night comeback in 2009.
Matchups of Former Number One Draft Pick Quarterbacks
There's a very good likelihood that the Colts will take part in three matchups of former first overall draft pick quarterbacks in 2015, and it's likely to happen in a four game stretch. The Colts obviously have Andrew Luck at quarterback, who was the top overall pick in 2012. In week eight, the Colts will travel to Carolina to take on the Panthers and Cam Newton, who was the top overall pick in 2011. In week nine, the Colts will host the Broncos and quarterback Peyton Manning, who was the first overall pick by the Colts in 1998. They have a week ten bye and then a week eleven game against the Falcons (and Matt Ryan, who was the third overall pick in 2008). Then in week twelve, the Colts will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are likely to take Jameis Winston with the top overall pick this year.
Peyton Manning Returns to Indianapolis
As already noted, the Colts will face the Broncos in 2015, and that will mean quarterback Peyton Manning makes a return to Indianapolis. His first game back in Indy happened in 2013 in a Colts' win in what was a very emotional night at Lucas Oil Stadium for both Colts fans and for the quarterback. There's a very real chance that, unless the Broncos make a return to Indy in the playoffs (which is certainly possible), this could be Peyton Manning's last career game in Indianapolis. The Colts have faced Manning three times, and Indy has won two of them, including last year's divisional round playoff game in Denver to end the Broncos' season. Oh yeah, and guess what? He's on pace to break Brett Favre's all-time passing yardage record in week nine. Against the Colts. In Indianapolis. It's no guarantee that happens, but I'm sure that's no coincidence.
Primetime Games Headline 2015 Schedule
The Colts will have the maximum amount of primetime games allowed in 2015 with five, and they highlight the Colts' schedule. The team will have their home opener in week two on Monday Night Football for the second straight season, and this year they will host the New York Jets. In week five they will travel to Houston for a Thursday night matchup with the division rival Texans. In week six, then, the Colts will host the Patriots on a primetime Sunday Night Football game. Just two weeks later, the Colts will travel to Carolina for a Monday night matchup with the Panthers, and then in week thirteen the Colts will play in Pittsburgh against the Steelers on Sunday Night Football.