INDIANAPOLIS – Shane Steichen’s first season as an NFL head coach offers a schedule that doesn’t appear to be too daunting on paper.
The Colts announced their 2023 schedule on Thursday, with 9 home games and 8 away games (1 neutral) this season.
Get used to Sunday’s at 1:00, as the Colts have no primetime games in 2023 (1 of 4 teams: Falcons, Cardinals, Texans, Colts), no Thursday nighter and just two games that are not scheduled for Sunday at 1:00.
Here are 5 takeaways on the Colts 2023 schedule:
1. Ideal Opener
This might surprise some people, but I think starting the season with the Jaguars at home is the ideal opener for Shane Steichen.
It’s a game almost no one will be picking the Colts. It’s at home with the crowd having that naural opener buzz to a season. It’s a game against a team that won’t be bringing many road fans to Lucas Oil Stadium.
So, if you win it, fans will be rejoicing for an entire week.
It’s not like any other opponent has worked for the Colts in Week 1.
The Colts have a 9-year drought of winning a season opener. Nothing to lose with this matchup.
2. Schedule Ease?
It’s on paper, but this schedule has a very tame feel to it.
Based off last year, the Colts have just 2 of their 17 games against teams who are coming off double-digit win seasons (at Bengals, at Ravens). You had 12 of the 17 teams finish last season with a record under .500. Based off last year’s records, the Colts have the 4th ‘easiest’ schedule in 2023.
Is the best quarterback you’ll see in 8 home games this season a Trevor Lawrence in the opener or a “getting older” Matthew Stafford/Derek Carr?
Obviously, teams change from year-to-year and no one pegged the NFC East to take off like it did last year. But this schedule doesn’t have the long list of marquee quarterbacks/plethora of definite playoff teams.
Even the road schedule lost arguably its hardest atmosphere with a game in Foxborough turning into a 48,000-seat stadium in Frankfurt, Germany
Can the Colts take advantage of it?
3. Anthony Richardson’s Debut In Week 1
Hear me out with this one.
Would the presence of Jim Bob Cooter as Colts offensive coordinator, with the fact he was with Jacksonville last year, given Shane Steichen more comfort in starting Anthony Richardson in the opener?
Are we thinking too deep with this one?
Perhaps, but with no bye until Week 11, why not start Richardson at home and out of the gate with a team his OC has some familiarity with.
4. Post-International Bye Week
When you are playing internationally, the bye week takes on even more importance.
And the Colts will have theirs right after the Week 10 meeting in Frankfort, Germany.
Remember, back in 2016, when the Colts last played an international game in London, they returned to play a game the very next week (home vs. the Bears), not wanting to have a bye that early in the season. That would have been a Week 5 bye week (they had a Week 10 bye that year).
After consecutive years with December bye weeks, the Colts bye will now be more in the middle-ish part of the schedule. And no mini-bye this year due to no Thursday night game. Amazon gets the last laugh here after Colts/Broncos on Amazon last year ruined eyes for years.
5. Young QBs
From a pure storyline standpoint, all the young QBs on this year’s schedule offers some strong appeal.
The Colts fall into that boat, whenever they turn things over to Anthony Richardson.
It’s possible the Colts will have 5 of their 17 games this season against fellow rookie QBs: 2 with C.J. Stroud and Houston, 2 with Will Levis and Tennessee and 1 with Bryce Young and Carolina. And 7 of 17 against first or second year QBs if you toss in Kenny Pickett with the Steelers and Desmond Ridder with the Falcons.
More so with the rookies and Richardson, you have some cool storylines.
That heightens a bit when you look at the AFC South and the fact 3 of the 4 teams could be starting QBs from the same draft class. That’s unheardof.
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