The last piece I wrote was about how the Colts could start the year by losing their first two games. While that might happen, I still believe the Colts will win at least a ton of games in the upcoming regular season. Not only have the Colts upgraded as a team from what we last saw in Foxborough, but they have the easiest strength of schedule this season — and that’s huge.
I’m now going to go over the Colts’ schedule and predict which games they will win and lose. I’m not going to add scores because, quite frankly, I think it is silly to predict them. Many odd, random things can contribute to a score, but predicting an outcome is right to the point.
Week 1 – At Denver
The Colts are going to lose this game. There, that was easy. While I would absolutely love for Andrew Luck and company to make a big statement to start off the 2014 season, I just don’t see it happening.
In Week 7 of last season, the Colts and Broncos played one of the marquee games of the year. Although the score says the Colts only won by six (39-33), it really wasn’t that close. The Colts went into the fourth quarter with a 33-17 lead and had complete control of the game. Maybe it was Peyton’s Manning’s homecoming jitters that shook up the Broncos, but they looked totally out of their element. They are going to want to avenge that poor performance in Indianapolis. And it would be different if they would have won the Super Bowl last year and just wanted to show up the Colts, but they got annihilated in the Super Bowl and will want to show up the entire world.
Robert Mathis’ absence will be greatly felt in Denver. I said the Colts had complete control of the game in Indianapolis, but that all started from Mathis’ strip-sack on Manning that cause a safety. That was the moment everything switched over to the Colts’ side. The Colts must get some pressure on Manning to have any chance in this game, and it’s just hard to see where that pressure will come from with Mathis on the sidelines.
Week 2 – VS. Philadelphia
This is an odd game just because it rarely occurs. These two teams have only met twice in the past 10 years — and they have split those two games. The last meeting being in 2009 at Philadelphia where the Eagles won 26-24.
I believe the Colts will win this game not only because they are a better team, but because their circumstances will be different than the Eagles. Even though the Jaguars look to be better than last season, I fully expect the Eagles to crush them in Philadelphia as they start their 2014 campaign. Because of this, I believe the Eagles will walk into Lucas Oil Stadium feeling pretty content with no true sense of urgency. On the other hand, I think the Colts will be coming into the game off of a rough first loss to start the season, and they will want to make up for that loss at their home opener.
The Eagles were impressive last year and will probably be better this year, but I still think their defense leaves a lot to be wanted and the Colts can take advantage of that. This should be a close game, but the Colts are good at winning close games.
Week 5 – VS. Baltimore
Unlike the Eagles, the Ravens are a team that the Colts know fairly well. In the past 10 years, the two teams have met seven times and the Colts are 5-2 in those meetings. However, the Ravens have won the last two meetings – the latest being in the 2012 playoffs when the Colts lost 24-9.
The Colts were able to take a step forward towards the right direction last year by winning their first playoff game under the new regime, but the Ravens took a step back after winning the Super Bowl by going 8-8 and missing the playoffs. Baltimore’s defense wasn’t what everyone was used to and their offense seemed to struggle all year. While I think it was a good move to bring in Gary Kubiak as their new offensive coordinator, I just don’t think him making the offense better will fix all their problems. The Ravens looked like a bad team a lot more than they looked like a good team last season, and I think they will be around average again this year.
I’m writing this down as another Colts victory.
Week 7 – VS. Cincinnati
Indianapolis was embarrassed a couple of times last year, and the game in Cincinnati was defiantly one of those instances. The Colts’ offense tried their best to get back into that game, but the defense could never come up with a stop and their slow start proved to be too big to overcome. The Colts went on to lose by a score of 42-28.
I think the Colts are going to get beaten by the Bengals for the second straight season.
The Bengals are just a rough opponent for the Colts, in my opinion. The Bengals have a tough defense that can stop Trent Richardson from getting more than three yards per carry and they also have the ability to make things difficult for Luck and his aerial attack (even though Luck put up great numbers in their last meeting). On top of the Bengals’ defense, their offense has enough big-play guys that can put up points in a flash against the Colts’ weak defense.
I don’t expect the Bengals to have complete control from start to finish like they did in their last meeting, but I do believe they will once again come out on top.
Week 8 – At Pittsburgh
The Steelers have been an average football team ever since Tim Tebow sucked out their souls in the 2011 playoffs. It kind of goes under the radar, but the Steelers have in fact gone 16-16 in the past two seasons and have missed the playoffs both years. This simply isn’t the team so many people have grown to know.
I thought the Ravens got better by bringing in Kubiak, but I don’t see anything the Steelers have done this off-season to make any major differences. If anything, their offense took a hit by losing Emmanuel Sanders to the Broncos. Sanders had just over 700 hundred yards and six touchdowns last season, and now the Steelers are turning to second-year receiver Markus Wheaton to make up for that production. That might not be the toughest thing to swallow if Wheaton gave good production during his rookie year, but he only had six catches for 64 yards. This off-season has had a lot of talk about the wide receiving core for the Panthers, but the Steelers easily have one of the most troubling receiving units in the league.
Not only is the Steelers’ offense a concern, but their defense hasn’t been good either. Their defense gave up at least 30 points five times last season. Prior to 2013, the Steelers’ defense gave up at least 30 points five times in the past THREE seasons. Talk about a big difference.
Ultimately, I could see the Colts punching the Steelers in the mouth and getting a good win on the road.
Week 9 – AT New York (Giants)
The Colts are going to win this game. There, just as quick as my Denver prediction.
The Giants were bad last season. They may have finished 7-9, but they definitely looked worse than that a lot of the time.
I like to look at a team’s turnover differential for the simple fact that a team is usually going to be good if their difference was positive. Last year, the Colts were third in this category with + 13. That’s one of the main reasons they were so good at winning close games. However, the Giants can’t say the same. In 2013, the Giants had a differential of -15. Only the Texans had worse (-20). It is very, very hard to be a good football team when you are hurting yourself that much.
New York has made some changes to their offense this off-season by bringing in Ben McAdoo and his West Coast offense and also drafting wide receiver Odell Beckham JR. That’s all fine and dandy, but it doesn’t change the fact that they have a defense that allowed six games of at least 30 points last season.
At the end of the day, I think this is a game the Colts will win fairly easily.
Week 11 – VS. New England
It’s kills me to say this, but I think the Patriots are going to win this game. I don’t think the Patriots are an a different level than the Colts or anything like that, but I just think they have their number right now.
I’m not sure if this is still considered a big rivalry to the rest of the world since Manning left, but I know Colts fans still love to have the Patriots. New England has won the last four meetings, and the last time they lost against the Colts was when Bill Belichick decided to go for it on fourth down which led to him covering his face like an embarrassed little kid. Oh how joyous that moment was.
The Patriots especially seem to have the Colts’ number under the newest regime. Since 2012, these teams have might twice and the Patriots have won 59-24 and 43-22. In those two games, Luck has thrown a combined seven interceptions.
I don’t think this game will follow the previous two games between these teams, but I think the Patriots grind out a close win in Indianapolis.
Week 13 – VS. Washington
The Redskins continue the pattern of bad 2013 teams that the Colts get the pleasure of playing this year. After having a stellar 2012 season with Robert Griffin III, Washington completely dropped the ball last year by going 3-13. Because of their disaster season, the Redskins’ coaching staff took a complete overhaul and look to be a totally different team.
But I don’t think that will be the case — at least totally.
Like the Giants, the Redskins were terrible in the turnover differential department and finished with a -8 difference. To add to that, there defense was bad. Those tend to be the two common factors among bad teams. The Redskins gave up at least 30 points six times last year, and their offense averaged 33 points in their only three victories. The latter is something to seriously look at. You’re not going to win many games if your offense is forced to score over 30 points for that to happen. Good teams need to be able to grind out close games that don’t always turn into a shootout.
This will be the first meeting between Luck and Griffin in the NFL — I refuse to count a preseason game — and I think Luck will show he is the better player and lead the Colts to a big victory.
Week 14 – At Cleveland
Call me an idiot, but I think the Colts might just mess around and lose this game.
The Browns aren’t a top team at any stretch, but I think they have the qualities to give the Colts a disappointing day. The Colts were good at climbing out of holes that they dug for themselves last year, but there were still a handful of weeks when they never really showed up and dropped the ball. In my opinion, there were five of those games last year, against: Miami, San Diego, Saint Louis, Arizona and Cincinnati. The last three teams share the characteristics of being a physical team with a strong defense and an offense that has some big play guys.
I believe the Browns have a strong defense that can disrupt Luck and company, and I think Johnny Manziel and Josh Gordon — obviously, I expect both to play/start this game — can be two of the guys to make big plays against a lackluster Colts defense.
I hope I end up totally wrong and the Colts come out and destroy the Browns. But I do think it’s either one extreme or another: Either the Colts blowout the Browns or they lose. I don’t see there being a close game where the Colts grind out a win.
Week 16 – At Dallas
Well, the Colts find themselves taking a field trip to Jerry’s World. A meeting between the two teams with the league’s most…out there owners. Oh boy.
The Cowboys were yet again disappointing in 2013, and I don’t see them improving at all this year. My theme for bad teams has been defense, and the Cowboys’ defense was historically bad last season. Last year, the Cowboys were able to allow a league-worst 6,645 yards and allowed at least 30 points seven times. When playing elite quarterback-led offenses like the Broncos and Saints, the Cowboys gave up 51 and 49 points, respectively. I’m not saying the Colts will do anything close to that, but there is definitely opportunists for great success with all the Colts’ weapons.
Playing in Dallas will very well be one of the biggest stages this Colts team has had to take on, and I fully expect them to steal the show.
“But Andrew, you’re missing six whole games!”
Oh yeah, I totally forgot every AFC South game. Wanna know why? It’s because I am confident that the Colts will sweep the division for the second straight year. Some might find this a little ridiculous — after all, I’ve stated that the other teams have gotten better this off-season — but I just truly believe the Colts are that much better than the other three teams. They are simply in a class of their own. Of course, the Colts could come out and completely drop the ball like they occasionally do or other things could happen resulting in a Colts loss, but if you put a gun to my head and ask me what I think will happen, this is what I would say. For the past two years and for the foreseeable future, this is Andrew Luck’s division.
So there goes my long take on the 2014 schedule for the Colts. I have them going 13-3 which might sound crazy to a lot of people, but the fact is the Colts have a super favorable schedule this year and if they take advantage of it good things will come. They should have their sights set on a first-round bye.