The Indianapolis Colts have just one game remaining in their 2016 season, as they won’t be playing past this Sunday’s game since they’ve already been eliminated from playoff contention.
So many fans have already turned their attention towards next season, and it’s worth pointing out that the team already knows most of their opponents for the 2017 season. Since some have been asking about it, here are the team’s opponents next year:
Home: Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, AFC West
Away: Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks, AFC East
The NFL schedules are based off of a system that rotates divisions, so in addition to playing six games against their own division each year they will also face the teams from one division of each conference on a rotating basis. This year, the Colts faced the AFC West (Raiders, Chiefs, Broncos, Chargers) and the NFC North (Lions, Packers, Vikings, Bears). Next year, they will face the AFC North (Steelers, Ravens, Bengals, Browns) and the NFC West (Seahawks, Cardinals, Rams, 49ers). So that’s 14 of their opponents already decided, leaving just two remaining (though it’s important to note that these aren’t official until the NFL or the team confirms it).
Those are the two we don’t exactly know yet, though we have a good idea. The Colts play their own division and they play another AFC division each year, and then they’ll face the team from the other two AFC divisions that finished in the same place in the standings as them the year before. So because we don’t know where the Colts will finish in the division standings, we can’t know for sure who their final two opponents will be. If the Colts beat the Jaguars on Sunday and the Texans beat the Titans, the Colts will finish second in the division. If the Colts lose on Sunday or if the Titans win, the Colts will finish third in the division. If the Colts finish second, they would face either the Oakland Raiders or the Kansas City Chiefs (whoever is in second in the AFC West) and the Miami Dolphins (second in the AFC East). If the Colts finish third, they will face the Denver Broncos (third in the AFC West) and the Buffalo Bills (third in the AFC East).
The highlights of next year’s schedule figures to be home matchups with the Steelers and Cardinals - which will be Bruce Arians’s return to Indianapolis - as well as a road game against the Seahawks, among others. The Colts will for sure play three of this year’s playoff teams next season (the Texans, Steelers, and Seahawks) and would face two more if they finish in second place in the AFC South (as they would face the Raiders/Chiefs and Dolphins).
It will be a very interesting season, and of course we’re getting ahead of ourselves looking at the opponents, as the schedule won’t be released for several more months. But it’s interesting to look at nonetheless as we turn our attention more and more past this season.