Now that the 2015 NFL season is officially over, our focus turns to the offseason and toward getting ready for next season. Teams will make a number of moves over the next few months with the intention of improving and contending next year.
A large part of a team's success (or lack thereof), however, can come based on their schedule. Some years, a team has a very tough schedule, while other years the schedule is easy. Last year, the Colts had one of the easiest schedules entering the season (in terms of strength of schedule based on 2014 record), and it turned out to be a relatively easy one overall. What about in 2016?
Blogging the Boys recently compiled a ranking of each team's 2016 strength of schedule based on 2015 records, and the Colts rank 22nd in the NFL - just below average. The Colts' opponents for next year had a 122-134 record in 2015, putting the team's strength of schedule at .477 (for comparison, the 49ers and the Falcons were tied for the strongest strength of schedule at .555, while the Packers were last at .457). The Colts will play eight 8+ win teams and seven playoff teams from this year.
Furthermore, the schedule breakdown is noteworthy. The Colts' 2016 home opponents had just a 55-73 record in 2015 (.430), while the team's 2016 road opponents had a 67-61 record last year (.523). So it appears as if the Colts will have a tougher road slate of games than they will at home. The Colts' strength of schedule is also made a lot easier by their division. The AFC South was pretty terrible again in 2015, leading the Colts' division opponents to compile just a 34-62 record (.354) in 2015. The other ten opponents on Indy's schedule for 2016, however, went 88-72 last year (.550), with eight of the ten winning at least seven games.
Here are the Colts' opponents for 2016, with each team's 2015 record in parenthesis:
HOME: Chicago Bears (6-10), San Diego Chargers (4-12), Kansas City Chiefs (11-5), Detroit Lions (7-9), Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6), Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11), Houston Texans (9-7), Tennessee Titans (3-13)
AWAY: Denver Broncos (12-4), New York Jets (10-6), Green Bay Packers (10-6), Oakland Raiders (7-9), Minnesota Vikings (11-5), Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11)*, Houston Texans (9-7), Tennessee Titans (3-13)
*Game will be played in London