As soon as football seasons ends, many fans anticipate what the future will hold for their beloved team. Following the Super Bowl, football fans have tiny glimpses of next season. First comes free agency, then the release of opponents, followed by the unveiling of the season schedules. It is now that time. The NFL released each team's schedule for the coming season Wednesday evening.
Last October, Indianapolis defeated their former quarterback, Peyton Manning, and the Denver Broncos in the teams' first match-up since Manning's release. It is no surprise the NFL found it fitting to kick off both team's schedule with a rematch, this time in Denver.
Beginning the season on the road tends to be a challenge for many teams. The Colts not only begin their journey away from home, they face the 2014 AFC Champion Broncos. This is only a preview of the season to come.
Including the Broncos, the Colts are set to face four playoff contenders from last season. Fortunately for Indianapolis, three of four these games are played at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots and the Cincinnati Bengals are all scheduled to visit Indianapolis in 2014.
Road games present a challenge to even the best of teams in the NFL. Luckily for the Colts, fan support in Indianapolis has helped the team clinch home games. When the team is on the road, it is another story. In fact, three of five losses during the regular season happened on the road for the Colts last year.
Next season the Colts face the following teams on the road: Broncos, Jacksonville Jaguars (divisional), Houston Texans (divisional), Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys and the Tennessee Titans (divisional).
As if beginning the season on the road and a variety of tough match-ups was not enough, the NFL scheduled five primetime games for the Colts. No matter where the game is played or who is playing, primetime football always ups the ante and raises the pressure for every team in the league.
The Colts kick off the season with two back to back primetime games on the road at Denver for Sunday Night Football and at home against Philadelphia for Monday Night Football. Indianapolis makes their Thursday Night Football appearance in early October when they travel to Houston in week 6. Three weeks later, the Colts face Peyton Manning's baby brother, Eli and the New York Giants on the road for their second Monday Night Football appearance. This all before the team's week 10 bye week.
After the Colts have had some rest, they are back at it for another Sunday Night Football match-up. This time, the stakes are even bigger as they take on the Patriots, the team who knocked them out of the playoffs last January. In the Manning era, the Colts/Patriots match-up was always a heated rivalry. Although Indianapolis has not played the Patriots in the regular season in a couple years, Colts fans have certainly not forgotten.
Indianapolis is not the only team in the league to score as many primetime appearances. The Chicago Bears, Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, Green Bay Packers and the Steelers also have 5 scheduled evening games. The Broncos lead the pack with six.
This, of, course, could change as the NFL adopts a new flex scheduling policy that extends the possibility of an altered schedule. The NFL may now choose to change the primetime line-up twice between week 5-10. As always, week 11-17 the NFL can make any schedule changes they see fit to increase ratings.