In the third of a series of offseason reviews looking at the Colts moves Steve Ovenden (@HappyHappySteve) takes a look at schedule for the 2020 season
It is the time of the year to find out when we are going to see our team play. We are currently living in some unprecedented times and quite expectedly we are having to change the way we do things. Almost all sport has been a victim of these changes, well, apart from one of course. The NFL has been pretty much the exception to the rule so far, carrying on with its off season relatively normally. It is the intention for football to go ahead as planned. As this is the case, it is time to look at what the season has in store. In this case, let us look at the Indianapolis Colts 2020 schedule.
Week 1: 13/09/2020 @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 2: 20/09/2020 VS Minnesota Vikings
Week 3: 27/09/2020 VS New York Jets
Week 4: 04/10/2020 @ Chicago Bears
Week 5: 11/10/2020 @ Cleveland Browns
Week 6: 18/10/2020 VS Cincinnati Bengals
Week 7: 25/10/2020 BYE WEEK
Week 8: 01/11/2020 @ Detroit Lions
Week 9: 08/11/2020 VS Baltimore Ravens
Week 10: 12/11/2020 @ Tennessee Titans
Week 11: 22/11/2020 VS Green Bay Packers
Week 12: 29/11/2020 VS Tennessee Titans
Week 13: 06/12/2020 @ Houston Texans
Week 14: 13/12/2020 @ Las Vegas Raiders
Week 15: 19 or 20/12/2020 VS Houston Texans
Week 16: 27/12/2020 @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 17: 04/01/2021 VS Jacksonville Jaguars
Things to Note
As schedules go in the NFL this is a tough one, but maybe not the toughest. This is a middle of the road schedule, yes it has some teams that are down to be Superbowl contenders, but a decently balanced team like the Colts should be able to handle it. The bye week in this schedule is relatively well placed and the mini bye comes between weeks 10 and 11, during what is probably the toughest stretch of the season. Weeks 9 – 13 will be the toughest stretch in this schedule, playing two teams that will likely win their respective divisions and having divisional matchups against Tennessee and Houston. The trip to Las Vegas might become a bit trickier in week 14 after this run of games as it will be quite a distance to travel and the second road game on the bounce. The rest of the schedule is fairly straight forward, playing Jacksonville at the start and end of the season and a bunch of teams that Indy should beat, but as we know in the NFL, there is no guarantees and no such thing as an easy game. I personally have the Colts going an optimistic 11 – 5 this season.
Having said this, let us have a look at what I believe are the toughest matchups this season.
VS Minnesota Vikings (Week 2)
The first game to mention would be the week 2 visit to Lucas Oil by the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings will be expected to make a serious challenge in the NFC North this year and they, like the Colts will want to make a statement of intent early on. Both teams have weapons Hilton/Thielen, Mack/Cook, but with an improved Indy defense and a Vikings defense that does not give up a lot of points, this tie could be decided on this side of the ball. As this game is in week2, a loss would not prove too catastrophic for the Colts but in my opinion, a win in this one makes a statement and should set the tone for at least the first half of the season.
VS Baltimore Ravens (Week 9)
The next biggest test for the Colts has to be this week 9 matchup. This game to me is the game that will be most similar to the Chiefs game last year. Like in that game, Indy will have to keep Jackson off the field like they did with Mahomes to stand a much better chance of winning. The Ravens are one of the teams tipped to go all the way this year, but what a statement it would be if the Colts ran out winners in this one. This game sits at the beginning of the second half of the season and is at the start of the run of games which sees Indy play three division games and a home tie against Green Bay. If they should fall to the Ravens, it wouldn’t be a shock but what a win and confidence boost it would be going into a difficult couple of weeks.
VS Green Bay Packers (Week 11)
The Green Bay Packers have, and mostly always will be, one of the toughest games in a schedule. After this years Draft, Quarterback Aaron Rodgers will likely be playing this season with a big chip on his shoulder. If this should happen, then this game is going to be even more difficult for the Colts. This game is also sandwiched between the two matchups with the Titans, tipped to be challengers with the Colts in the AFC South, the Packers game is also in the middle of the toughest stretch of the season. This game is not unwinnable though. You must beat the best and I think if the Colts win this one, it gives them a boost going into the final quarter of the season.
No schedule is complete without the divisional games. Apart from the opener in Jacksonville, all the Colts AFC South games come in the second half of the season. This could have its benefits. In my opinion, by week 10 Indy will have a good perspective of how the division is shaping up. It will give them an advantage on who is form and a better idea on how to approach these games. The flip side will be the added pressure it could bring as divisional records can mean the difference in tie breakers at the end of the season. The second half of the season is certainly tougher in this respect. The Titans will likely be the team to beat in the division going off last years form. The games with them are surrounded by games with the Packers and Ravens and the games with the Texans come either side of a long trip to Las Vegas. The Jags are the final game of the season after a trip to Pittsburgh.
Summary For me, the Colts must take advantage of the first half of the season. They need in my opinion to have at least six wins by week 9 to give themselves a great chance at the playoffs. Six wins sets them to attack the second half of the season against a lot of tough teams. Losing a couple of these games is probably a realistic expectation but this year’s Colts team does give me confidence they will not be losing many.