INDIANAPOLIS – Those out in the City of Sin have the Colts hovering around 9 wins in the over/under world for the 2020 season.
In Year 4 of the Chris Ballard era, and Year 3 of the Frank Reich era, the Colts are trying to be a participant again in the postseason after missing the playoffs in 4 of the last 5 years.
With the 2020 regular starting on Sunday for the Colts, here is my game-by-game prediction for the 2020 season:
Week 1 at Jaguars: Win, 31-20 (1-0)
-This is a win, right? On paper, this might be the second ‘easiest’ game the Colts have all season. They are touchdown-plus favorites on the road (something they haven’t been since their last win in Jacksonville, which came in 2014). By NFL standards, the Jaguars have a JV roster. The Colts do not. Get a win and come back home.
Week 2 vs. Vikings: Loss, 23-20 (1-1)
-I don’t think people are giving the Vikings enough of a look this year. They have a pretty balanced roster, with several notable names on the defensive side of the ball. I think this will be a tough one for the Colts, with 2,500 fans inside of Lucas Oil Stadium hardly making a difference.
Week 3 vs. Jets: Win, 30-14 (2-1)
-Starting in Week 3, this is where the Colts might be the definite favorite in 4 or 5 straight games. The Jets have all the Colts cast-offs and that motivation won’t be enough to win in Indy. I see the Colts getting to Sam Darnold and producing one of their more dominant wins of 2020.
Week 4 at Bears: Win, 20-17 (3-1)
-A reunion against Chuck Pagano comes to close out the first quarter of the season. I see a low scoring game against the Pagano-led defense, with the Colts having the more accomplished quarterback being able to get it done late.
Week 5 at Browns: Loss, 27-24 (3-2)
-Many will disagree with this one. That’s fine. I just see one more loss for the Colts before the gauntlet begins in Week 9. Will the Browns talent ever show up? This will be another close one with Baker Mayfield leading a final-minute drive for the game-winning field goal.
Week 6, vs. Bengals: Win, 34-17 (4-2)
-The Colts get back to their winning ways against the No. 1 overall pick. A convincing win over the Bengals will have the Colts sitting at 2-1 heading into their bye week.
Week 7: BYE
Week 8 at Lions: Win, 24-23 (5-2)
-This is a game that Colts fans shouldn’t just pencil in as an unquestioned ‘W.’ In 2019, the Lions had some promising moments when Matthew Stafford was healthy. A healthy Stafford makes this game much more worrisome, but I think the Colts sneak out a win (with the same drama we saw in their last trip to Detroit in 2012?).
Week 9, vs. Ravens: Win, 27-20, (6-2)
-I see this as the biggest win for the Colts in 2020. The Indy defense has been built more so to stop mobile, running quarterbacks (with Chris Ballard previously building towards trying to stop Deshaun Watson and Marcus Mariota). A bye week coming two weeks prior to this contest should allow the staff to focus some more time on defending Lamar Jackson. The run and strike ability of the Colts linebackers, and Kenny Moore, gets this win done over the vaunted Ravens.
Week 10 at Titans: Loss, 24-16 (6-3)
-It’s quite the wait for the second AFC South game of the season. This one comes on a short week in Nashville. After such a big win 5 days prior, I got the Titans getting this primetime game on Thursday Night Football.
Week 11 vs. Packers: Loss, 34-24 (6-4)
-This is the lone losing streak I see for the Colts in 2020. I know the Packers have had a head-turning offseason in several spots, but they still have the best passing quarterback on the Colts 2020 schedule. A matchup of two future Hall of Famers at QB (I think) has Aaron Rodgers and the Packers being too much for the Indy defense.
Week 12 vs. Titans: Win, 24-17 (7-4)
-Revenge from a loss back in Week 10 occurs here as the Colts improve to three games over .500, maintaining positive momentum towards a playoff spot. The Colts have had the Titans number over the years, but the games have been pretty competitive, so I can’t go all-in on a clean sweep for Tennessee.
Week 13 at Texans: Loss, 27-21 (7-5)
-These key divisional matchups with the Titans and Texans both fall in a 3-week span. Many are ready to write off the Texans, but they still have the best quarterback in the division. The Colts drop this one in a place they’ve found great success.
Week 14 at Raiders: Win, 23-20 (8-5)
-I feel bad for Colts fans wanting to make the trip to Las Vegas in 2020 for this matchup. No fans in Vegas this year has the Raiders losing out on any Black Hole advantage moving over a state. The Colts get this ‘W,’ which is even more important considering it involves two teams trying to get back into the postseason.
Week 15 vs. Texans: Win, 34-31 (9-5)
-Will this game be in primetime? It’s currently either December 19th or 20th and could fall on a Saturday evening/night timeslot. The Colts win a shootout, to seize control in the AFC South as they look for their first division title since 2014.
Week 16 at Steelers: Loss, 30-23 (9-6)
-The Colts have lost 12 of their last 13 games in Pittsburgh, and won just once since 1968 (a 24-20 win in 2008). A healthy Big Ben has me worried this will be the final slip-up for the Colts in 2020. This loss would have the Colts needing a season finale win to clinch the AFC South.
Week 17 vs. Jaguars: Win, 34-17 (10-6)
-A clean sweep of the Jaguars this season gives the Colts the AFC South title and one home game in the postseason. Whether it’s September 13th or January 3rd, Jaguars fans are full-in on tanking for Trevor Lawrence, which is music to the Colts ears.
10-6 Record Takeaways: I’m taking the ‘over’ on the 9-win over/under for the 2020 Colts. A 10-6 record has them back atop the AFC South for the first time since 2014, earning a postseason berth and having their second winning season in the last six years. This should be the barometer for the 2020 Colts. Internally, expectations are even higher than this. But getting back to playing meaningful football in January (remember 7 playoff teams this year) is needed. The constant building and building has to start turning into tangible wins/losses, especially considering the franchise is heading towards an uncertain QB situation in the somewhat immediate future. For now though, Philip Rivers gets the Colts into the postseason and returns for a final 2021 season.