Scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season. So the Athlon NFL editors will spend the next month dissecting each and every week of the 2012 slate for all 32 teams in the league.
Indianapolis Colts 2012 Schedule:
Week 1: at Chicago
Week 2: Minnesota
Week 3: Jacksonville
Week 4: BYE
Week 5: Green Bay
Week 6: at New York Jets
Week 7: Cleveland
Week 8: at Tennessee
Week 9: Miami
Week 10: at Jacksonville (Thur.)
Week 11: at New England
Week 12: Buffalo
Week 13: at Detroit
Week 14: Tennessee
Week 15: at Houston
Week 16: at Kansas City
Week 17: Houston
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- The Chosen One will begin his NFL career by facing two of the great pass rushers of this generation in Julius Peppers and Jared Allen. The odds of Andrew Luck having ever faced anything close to those two in the Pac-12 is slim and none. Chicago is about as bad a match-up for an NFL debut as there is in the league this year. Best of Luck, rook.
- There is good news, however, as the Vikings have little else around Allen to scare Luck, Jacksonville sits in Week 3 and the bye week comes quick in Week 4. Facing the Jags and Vikes when he does, followed by an off week to catch his breath, should help ease Luck into his first NFL season — if he survives the law firm of Urlacher, Peppers, McClellin, Tillman and Briggs in Week 1. Additionally, Luck, and the rest of the young Colts, will need that bye to prepare for the Packers’ and Jets’ complicated 3-4 defenses in Week 5 and 6.
- Having to face the Houston Texans twice each season will be brutal for the new regime in Indy, especially, as both games fall within the final three weeks of the regular season. But the other four games within the division are winnable. Jacksonville poses no real threat and the Titans, as fans saw last year, can be beaten by the Colts even without Peyton Manning. If Indianapolis doesn’t want the worst record in football again, it will have to win a couple of games within the AFC South.
- Playing the AFC East offers its own unique challenge, like visiting Tom Brady and the Patriots in November. But getting Buffalo and Miami at home is a blessing and the Jets have a tendency to play up (or down) to their competition. A 2-2 record in round-robin action with the East wouldn’t be all that crazy, a statement that if made a year ago would be asinine.
- Indianapolis got no favors by having to face the NFC North this fall. The defenses, other than Chicago, aren’t exactly stifling, but offensively this could be arguably the best division in football. With potentially three teams making the playoffs, the Colts are likely to finish 1-3 against the NFC. As stated, the season starts with two NFC North teams and Green Bay comes to the Oil Drum in Week 5. Not until Week 13 do the Colts finally visit Detroit to take on quarterback Matthew Stafford and a potent Lions' offense.
- The two floating games within the AFC are also an added bonus for the rebuilt Colts organization. Cleveland visits Lucas Oil Stadium in Week 7 and Indy will travel to Kansas City in Week 16. Both would certainly be considered winnable games at this stage of the summer.
- As an interesting side note, Luck and the Colts will face 10 straight quarterbacks who were drafted in the first round to start the season (assuming that Jake Locker is in the line-up by Week 8). Strangely enough, the best two teams in the AFC, the Patriots and Texans, will feature two signal callers not drafted in the first round.
Fantasy Focus: If you are drafting Andrew Luck, or any other rookie from the Colts for that matter, be patient, even more so than usual. The first month of the season is going to be brutal for Luck, but the schedule eases up as the year goes along. Expect Luck to be owned in most leagues by the halfway mark as he is slated to play Cleveland, Tennessee, Miami and Jacksonville in four straight during the heart of the off weeks. And, honestly, there is only one elite defense on the schedule after Week 7, Houston (twice).
-by Braden Gall
2012 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:
New England Patriots
New York Jets
Kansas City Chiefs
San Diego Chargers
New York Giants
San Francisco 49ers
St. Louis Rams