Despite having one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks in Andrew Luck, the Indianapolis Colts have missed the playoffs two years running. Will it be three in 2017? Surely yes if Luck were to get injured. Let’s break down Indy’s schedule.
The Indianapolis Colts’ AFC South Division will go against the AFC North and NFC West this season. The Colts were third in their division at 8-8 last year (for the second straight season) and thus also play the other two third-place teams in the AFC outside of the North (Bills and Broncos).
Indy’s strength of schedule is ranked as the easiest in the NFL in 2017 as the Colts’ opponents had a combined 2016 winning percentage of just .424 (107-146-3). Obviously ii helps playing in perhaps the NFL’s weakest division. In three of the past four seasons, the team with the easiest schedule has gone on to make at least the conference title game.
Andrew Luck & Co. will have seven games vs. teams that finished with a winning record. Four of those are in the division (Texans and Titans). The only other teams to finish above .500 on the schedule were Seattle, Pittsburgh and Denver; the Broncos, though, missed the playoffs.
Coach Chuck Pagano enters this season on the hot seat under new general manager Chris Ballard as most GMs like to hire their own guys. The Colts have started 0-2 for three consecutive years, and if that happens again then Pagano might not make it out of September. It’s conceivable, though, this team could start 3-0 as Indy is a 3.5-point opening favorite on NFL odds Week 1 at the Rams -- the last time the Colts played the Rams in Los Angeles was Sept. 17, 1989 -- and will be favored at home in Weeks 2-3 vs. the Cardinals and Browns, respectively.
The Colts’ toughest stretch looks to be when they play at Houston, home against Pittsburgh (a team against which Pagano is 0-3) and against Tennessee from Nov. 5-26, with a bye between the Steelers and Titans. The regular-season finale vs. Houston could be for the AFC South title. Houston has won at Lucas Oil Stadium the past two years.
Indianapolis is +1550 to win the AFC title on 5Dimes NFL odds and +4000 to win Super Bowl LII.