With just over two weeks until the start of training camp for the Indianapolis Colts, it seemed like a good time to take a good long look at the schedule for 2019 and make some predictions about how this team might look in the coming season.
2019 Indianapolis Colts Schedule
|Week 1||Sept. 8||@Los Angeles Chargers||4:05 p.m.||CBS|
|Week 2||Sept. 15||@Tennessee Titans||1 p.m.||CBS|
|Week 3||Sept. 22||Atlanta Falcons||1 p.m.||CBS|
|Week 4||Sept. 29||Oakland Raiders||1 p.m.||CBS|
|Week 5||Oct. 6||@Kansas City Chiefs*||8:20 p.m.||NBC|
|Week 6||—||BYE WEEK||—||—|
|Week 7||Oct. 20||Houston Texans||1 p.m.||CBS|
|Week 8||Oct. 27||Denver Broncos||4:25 p.m.||CBS|
|Week 9||Nov. 3||@Pittsburgh Steelers||1 p.m.||CBS|
|Week 10||Nov. 10||Miami Dolphins||4:05 p.m.||CBS|
|Week 11||Nov. 17||Jacksonville Jaguars||1 p.m.||CBS|
|Week 12||Nov. 21||@Houston Texans*||8:20 p.m.||FOX/NFLN/Amazon|
|Week 13||Dec. 1||Tennessee Titans||1 p.m.||CBS|
|Week 14||Dec. 8||@Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1 p.m.||CBS|
|Week 15||Dec. 16||@New Orleans Saints*||8:15 p.m.||ESPN|
|Week 16||Dec. 22||Carolina Panthers||1 p.m.||FOX|
|Week 17||Dec. 29||@Jacksonville Jaguars||1 p.m.||CBS|
First, let’s start by looking at some of the toughest games on this schedule.
The Colts come out of the gate with a real challenge to start the 2019 season. They fly across the country to Los Angeles to play the Chargers, a team that was the epitome of balance in the 2018 season. The defense of the Chargers will be a test for the Colts and they’ll be at a disadvantage because of the travel. Fortunately, since it is the opener, that travel impact will be lessened.
On defense, the Colts will need to prove they can get to Phillip Rivers and disrupt the passing game while also limiting the impact of Melvin Gordon on the ground. This game will be a tough one for the Colts and could be a tone setter for the season. A win or loss here likely has playoff implications, so it is critical that the Colts come out hot.
With Patrick Mahomes under center, the Chiefs are positioned to be one of the perennial obstacles to the Colts in their goals of reaching and winning multiple Super Bowls. They’ll face a prime time game at Arrowhead Stadium in week 5, and they’ll need to play far better than they did the last time they were there.
Several things are different from how they were in that matchup. First, T.Y. Hilton is back to full health, a reality that is hard to overrate. Jack Doyle will be back after a season ending injury. Oh, and rather than chasing Andrew Luck, Justin Houston will be hunting Mahomes this time around.
The Chiefs poor defense from last season seemingly got worse this offseason, but their offense should still be potent and deadly. This game could be a preview of a playoff game to come, and the Colts will definitely want that game played at Lucas Oil Stadium, so a win here would be key.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have been a thorn in the side of the Luck-Era Colts. In 4 meetings of the two teams since Luck took over under center, the Colts are winless. What’s more, the losses have been pretty one-sided. The Steelers have outscored the Colts 144-68 in those 4 games. Yuck.
However, this is not the same Steelers team that has thrashed the Colts in the past. Antonio Brown is a Raider. Le’Veon Bell is a Jet. While it is easy enough to hand wave those losses and point to years of steady success from the franchise, it is also tough to account for a loss of that much production on offense.
This is a game the Colts should win. If they enter it healthy, they will have the decidedly better team on both sides of the ball. Unfortunately, should doesn’t always mean will. The Colts will need to prove they can go into Pittsburgh and get a win against an opponent that has had their number in years past.
Week 15 against the Saints could very well offer a Super Bowl preview if both teams are playing up to the season’s expectations. The Colts face their toughest opponents on the road this season, and the Saints may be the best team of the bunch.
The good news for the Colts is that Drew Brees was far less impressive down the stretch last season than he was at the beginning. That is to be expected of a 40-year-old quarterback, and there is no doubt that Sean Payton will find ways to get the offense going even if Brees is not carrying the team on his back. Alvin Kamara is still one of the most dynamic offensive players out there, and will be tough to stop regardless of how Brees is playing.
This is the point in the season where wins can mean the difference between a playoff berth or watching from home. A game on the road in January, or one in your own stadium. That makes scraping out a win here all the more important.
Predicting the Colts win totals is always a little bit silly. Anyone who does so and acts like they actually know something is kidding themselves. Every NFL season comes with surprises we just can’t see coming, and this one will be no exception. Teams that should have been good will flop spectacularly and some that we expect to flounder will have breakout years.
Having said all that, I am going to do my best to predict the Colts record for the 2019 season. It should go without saying that I am very high on this team. A second year in the same offense along would likely have improved both the offense and defense. The addition of more talent and the return of players from injury will only make them better. The culture being built in Indianapolis is going to pay off big-time in the coming season.
Strength of Schedule
Warren Sharp does great work on his site putting the numbers together to analyze strength of schedule, and what he found this year is that the Colts are up against the 9th easiest strength of schedule for the 2019 season. While strength of schedule can often be deeply flawed, Sharp does it better than anyone else out there. If you want to take the time to go through some of his numbers, it is certainly interesting and worth a look.
What are your predictions for the Colts record this season?