While the official 2019 NFL schedule will not be released until April, every team officially knows who they will play next season. In 2018, the Indianapolis Colts enjoyed one of the easiest strengths of schedule and it certainly helped to get on a roll to an unlikely playoff berth. Next season, fans should expect a higher level of competition.
In 2018, the Colts faced only two division winners outside of the AFC South. They came up short in an early season match up with the New England Patriots and shutout the Dallas Cowboys in their final push to the playoffs. They split the series with the AFC South Champion Houston Texans.
There were also quite a few games against bad opponents. 9 of their 16 games were against opponents who finished the season with a losing record. 3 of the Colts 6 losses were against those teams.
While every season is different and dominant teams in one year can fall apart in the next, Indianapolis currently faces a schedule that includes 5 games against playoff teams, 4 of them will be on the road. Those games include visiting the New Orleans Saints (13-3), Kansas City Chiefs (12-4), Los Angeles Chargers (12-4), and Houston Texans (11-5). They will play 8 games against teams with a winning record in 2018, adding a road match up against the Pittsburgh Steelers (9-6-1) and a two-way meeting with the Tennessee Titans (9-7).
Even some of the home games against teams with a 2018 losing record could be very challenging. The Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos all have traits that make them a threat to win any game — and a history of not maintaining a streak of losing seasons for very long.
Ultimately, there are few match ups on the 2019 schedule that one can mark down as a likely win with complete confidence. Chris Ballard still has his work cut out for him and will need to keep building if he hopes to deliver the Colts back to the playoffs in consecutive years.