The Indianapolis Colts are looking to return to the playoffs after a disappointing 2019 season that was preceded by the shocking retirement of Andrew Luck. After a 7-9 finish, Indianapolis decided for the quick fix at quarterback in signing Philip Rivers to a one-year contract and building the offense around him, highlighted by their top two draft picks in receiver Michael Pittman and running back Jonathan Taylor. The Colts also made a major move on the defensive side of the ball in free agency, acquiring DeForest Buckner to shore up the interior of the defensive line, while they added Xavier Rhodes on a one-year deal after releasing Pierre Desir.
Indianapolis has missed the playoffs four times in the past five seasons, but the Colts have a roster talented enough for their second winning record in three seasons and a trip back to the postseason. Below, we'll take a week-by-week look at the 2020 schedule and highlight all the prime-time games in a season where Indianapolis will be featured in a few nationally televised contests. We'll also take a first look at the strength of schedule, the Colts' toughest stretch of games, and more.
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Here is a breakdown of the Colts' 2020 schedule:
- Week 1: Sept.13: at Jaguars, 1 p.m., CBS
- Week 2: Sept. 20: vs. Vikings, 1.p.m., Fox
- Week 3: Sept. 27: vs. Jets, 4:05 p.m., CBS
- Week 4: Oct. 4: at Bears, 1 p.m., Fox
- Week 5: Oct. 11: at Browns, 4:25 p.m., CBS
- Week 6: Oct. 18: vs. Bengals, 1 p.m., Fox
- Week 7: Oct. 25: BYE WEEK
- Week 8: Nov. 1: at Lions, 1 p.m., CBS
- Week 9: Nov. 8: vs. Ravens, 1 p.m., CBS
- Week 10: Nov. 12: at Titans (Thursday Night Football), 8:20 p.m., Fox/NFL Network/Amazon Prime
- Week 11: Nov. 22: vs. Packers, 1 p.m., Fox
- Week 12: Nov. 29: vs. Titans, 1 p.m., CBS
- Week 13: Dec. 6: at Texans, 1 p.m., CBS
- Week 14: Dec. 13: at Raiders, 4:05 p.m., CBS
- Week 15: Dec. 19 or Dec. 20: vs. Texans, TBD
- Week 16: Dec. 27: at Steelers, 1 p.m., CBS
- Week 17: Jan. 4: vs. Jaguars, 1 p.m., CBS
The Colts will host the Minnesota Vikings in Week 2 of the season after traveling to Jacksonville in Week 1. This is the third time in four years the Colts will not open the season at home. This is the second time this century the Colts will play the Vikings in their home opener; the other came in 2012.
A small prime-time slate awaits the Colts this year, with just one scheduled. Indianapolis will travel to Tennessee on "Thursday Night Football" in Week 11 as the Colts have no "Sunday Night Football" or "Monday Night Football" games scheduled. The Colts can play on Saturday night in Week 15 against Houston, but the NFL will make that determination during the season.
The Colts path toward returning to the playoffs for the second time in three years will be determined between Weeks 9 and 13. Indianapolis hosts Lamar Jackson and the Ravens in Week 9 before having a short week against AFC South rival Tennessee on "Thursday Night Football." The Colts will get 10 days off before hosting the Packers followed by playing the Titans for the second time in three weeks (in Indy this time). Indianapolis finishes off the brutal stretch by heading south to face Houston in Week 13.
For those counting at home, that's five consecutive playoff teams from 2019 the Colts will face (technically four since Indianapolis plays Tennessee twice). A 3-2 stretch will go a long way for the Colts.
Strength of schedule
Earlier this offseason, John Breech broke down the 2020 strength of schedule for all 32 NFL teams based on combined opponent winning percentage in 2019. The Colts will face the 16th-easiest strength of schedule in 2020. For a complete look at every team's strength of schedule, check out Breech's breakdown here.
However, when basing strength of schedule on the over/under win totals for each team's opponents during the 2020 season at William Hill, the Colts go from facing the 16th-easiest schedule in the league to facing the easiest in the entire NFL. For a complete look at every team's strength of schedule using this methodology, check out Jared Dubin's full breakdown here.