SPECIAL COVERAGE: 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500

Indianapolis Colts release full schedule for 2017 season

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Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Colts

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The pursuit of a return to relevancy for the Indianapolis Colts begins a long way from home against the Los Angeles Rams.

One of the NFL’s made-for-TV events – announcing the 2017 schedule Thursday evening – revealed the Colts will take their first step Sept. 10 against the Rams in the L.A. Coliseum.

The Colts open the home portion of their schedule Sept. 17 against Bruce Arians and the Arizona Cardinals at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Colts have missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1998-99, and that might have played a role in them being awarded just three prime-time games: Sunday, Oct. 1 at Seattle (NBC), Monday, Oct. 16 at Tennessee (ESPN) and Thursday, Dec. 14 against Denver at Lucas Oil (NBC/NFL Network).

Some takeaways from the schedule:

Prime-time players: The Colts need to regain their prime-time swagger. Anyone remember when they dominated that time slot? From 2003-10 and led by Peyton Manning, they were 29-7 and always entertaining.

But since the arrival of Chuck Pagano and Andrew Luck in 2012, they’re a lackluster 8-10 and have lost nine of their last 13 appearances.

‘Easiest’ road: This belongs in the For What It’s Worth category, but we’ll toss it out there anyway. Based on 2016 records, the Colts face the NFL’s easiest schedule this season. Their opponents’ combined winning percentage: .424 from a 107-146-3 record. Next in line are AFC South cohorts Tennessee and Jacksonville (each at .439) and Cincinnati (.449). Denver (.578) and Kansas City (.576) face the toughest schedules.

The Colts have only four games against teams that reached the playoffs last year – Houston (twice), Seattle, Pittsburgh – and are home against Cleveland (1-15 in ’16) and San Francisco (2-14).

Again, make of it what you will.

Getting started: Maybe they’ll get it right this time. As if the unforgiving 16-game grind isn’t arduous enough, the Colts have compounded matters by getting off to 0-2 starts the last three seasons. They overcame the false start in 2014 and reached the AFC Championship game, but couldn’t dig their way out the past two seasons.

The schedule lends itself to a quick start, providing the Colts take care of business. The Rams were 4-12 in their return to L.A. last season and haven’t posted a winning record since 2003. Arizona slipped to 7-8-1 last year after consecutive playoff appearances and the Browns are, well, the Browns. Since its last winning season in 2007 (10-6), Cleveland has lost at least 10 games in eight of nine seasons and were 1-15 last year.

A historical fact to chew on: In their 64-year history, the Colts have started a season 0-2 on 20 occasions. They’ve regrouped to reach the postseason only twice. The exceptions were in ’14 and the strike-shortened ’87 season.

Oh, no, Pittsburgh: In what has become a recurring nightmare, the Steelers again show up like Freddy Krueger. They’ve won 14 of the last 16 in the lopsided series, including four straight. To give Pittsburgh’s dominance perspective, consider last season’s 28-7 win on Thanksgiving night – the Colts followed Scott Tolzien’s lead as Luck missed the game with a concussion – was the closest since the Peyton Manning-less Colts fell 23-20 in 2011. The Steelers padded their offensive stats in ’15 (45-10) and ’14 (51-34).

Welcome back, Bruce: There already has been a reunion. The Colts offered their collective appreciation for Arians’ contributions as interim coach/offensive coordinator during Chuck Pagano’s battle with leukemia in 2012 when they met Arians’ Arizona Cardinals in Glendale in 2013. Now, BA returns to Lucas Oil Stadium. He’s never hidden his affinity for Indy. Prior to being lured out of retirement by Pagano prior to the 2012 season, Arians was the Colts’ quarterbacks coach during Peyton Manning’s formative years (1998-2000). Message to whomever compiles the video tribute: Do it right.

Full list of regular season opponents:

  • September 10 on CBS4: Rams
  • September 17 on FOX59: Cardinals (Home)
  • September 24 on CBS: Browns (Home)
  • October 1 on NBC: Seahawks
  • October 8 on FOX: 49ers (Home)
  • October 16 on ESPN: Titans
  • October 22 on CBS: Jaguars (Home)
  • October 29 on CBS: Bengals
  • November 5 on CBS: Texans
  • November 12 on CBS: Steelers (Home)
  • Bye Week
  • November 26 on CBS: Titans (Home)
  • December 3 on CBS: Jaguars
  • December 10 on CBS: Bills
  • December 14 on NBC/NFLN: Broncos (Home)
  • December 23 on NFLN: Ravens
  • December 31 on CBS: Texans (Home)

The team’s preseason schedule was announced last Monday.

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