INDIANAPOLIS – It’s a 17-game slate, with 7 games against teams that experienced the playoffs last season.
And the Colts will be no strangers to primetime in 2021, albeit mostly away from home.
Here are 6 takeaways from the Colts 2021 schedule:
1. Still No Primetime Love
That’s the number of days it has been since the Colts last hosted a Sunday or Monday night game inside of Lucas Oil Stadium.
And that number is only growing.
After going 5 straight years without a home primetime game on a Sunday or Monday, the Colts will now stretch that to 6 years.
They have 4 primetime games in 2021, but 3 of those are on the road, with the one home game being the mandatory Thursday nighter, against the Jets. It’s the first Thursday night home game for the Colts since 2017. Since 2004, the Colts have played 17 games on Thursday, with 13 of those coming on the road.
The Colts haven’t played on Sunday or Monday night at home since 2015. In that span (194 total games), every team in the NFL has had at least two home primetime games besides the Colts and Jaguars.
It’s an utter joke the NFL continues to ignore the Colts on Sunday and Monday night.
2. Toughest Stretch Early, Possibly Without Eric Fisher?
When a team starts seasons as ugly as the Colts have as of late, seeing who is on the September slate is always something to note.
The September schedule takes on even more attention to detail this year due to the injury situation at left tackle (or even with second-round pick Dayo Odeyingbo).
With Eric Fisher’s Achilles rehab reaching the 9-month mark in late September, his projected return could be a few weeks into the regular season.
Well, the Colts’ toughest stretch is right out of the gate: Seahawks, Rams, at Titans, at Dolphins, at Ravens. That’s 4 playoff teams from last year and a 5th in Miami who won 10 games and just missed the postseason.
Pass rushers in that stretch include Bud Dupree, Aaron Donald and Emmanuel Ogbah.
Even with Fisher, this is the toughest stretch on the schedule, and his availability being in question there only adds to that. Plus, you are introducing a new quarterback, although in a system he knows.
3. Bye Week Comes Late
If you were looking for the Colts bye week, or even the mini-bye off a Thursday nigher, you have to scroll a bit.
The actual bye week for the Colts in 2021 won’t come until Week 14, which is the latest in the NFL.
The mini-bye comes in Week 9.
So the Colts will have to wait until November to have longer than a week off, and then early December for that full week break.
That’s not ideal.
Although it should make for a healthier team to finish out the season
4. Getting The Division Back
The Colts have not won an AFC South crown since 2014. In that time frame, more than 20 teams around the league have won their respective divisions.
This year’s AFC South slate sees the Colts having both their matchups with the Titans in the first two months of the season.
It goes without saying how critical those meetings will be to deciding the division winner.
The Colts won’t see the Jaguars until Week 10.
And they’ll face the Texans once in mid-October and then for a second time in early December.
Again, it’s time for this regime to get the Colts back to being a regular/legit contender atop the division they dominated from 2002-14. It’s not like the AFC South has been some premier juggernaut during this recent stretch.
5. Juicy Opener To Try An End The Drought
From a ‘welcoming fans back to Lucas Oil Stadium’ standpoint, the Seahawks are an awesome Week 1 opponent.
Of course, for Frank Reich it’s one of the more daunting opponents this season in facing Russell Wilson, D.K. Metcalf and Pete Carroll.
We all know the elephant in the room that the Colts haven’t won a season opener since 2013 (in beating Terrelle Pryor and the Raiders).
FWIW, Carson Wentz has never beaten the Seahawks (0-5, including a playoffs loss in which Wentz exited early), with the Eagles scoring 17, 9, 10, 15 and 9 points in those games.
This is a great AFC/NFC matchup between two teams with full expectations on returning to the playoffs in 2021.
And then in Week Two, the Colts will host the Rams. It’s the first time since 2013 the Colts have started the season with consecutive home games. They haven’t opened a season 2-0 since 2009.
6. Christmas With The Colts
Make sure your Christmas plans are made around this great late-season matchup. For the first time ever, the Colts will play on Christmas Day (at night).
And it’s quite the fun matchup two, with only two scheduled games for the NFL on this Saturday.
This will be the first time that the Colts have faced the dynamic Kyler Murray, and they’ll also see DeAndre Hopkins again. Purdue product Rondale Moore was drafted by the Cardinals last month, too. And don’t forget about a potent edge duo in Chandler Jones and J.J. Watt.
The Colts last played on Christmas Eve in 2016 (at Oakland).
If it is anything like last December, expect these two teams to be in the thick of their respective playoff races.