The NFL preseason schedules have been released, and one thing is clear: after two straight seasons of talking heads predicting the Indianapolis Colts could finish near the bottom of the standings, the league has higher expectations this season. For the past few weeks, we’ve heard about the Colts’ classy problems: so many weapons who can do things with the ball on offense. Defensive players re-signing and new ones coming in, all eager to play for Coach Chuck Pagano.
This preseason schedule, including some national exposure, will give the team a chance to prove just how deep their roster really goes.
Assuming everyone returns healthy, we’ll see the fabled two-TE formation featuring Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen. We’ll find out just how deep the receiving corps will go with the addition of Hakeem Nicks and the return of Reggie Wayne. We’ll likely see a rookie safety or two along with sophomore linebackers Bjoern Werner and Daniel Adongo, who will be a year wiser and more experienced.
And of course, there will be the running back battle between Trent Richardson, Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard, who have all been surgically repaired. There will be a lot of pieces to move around and experiment with, and they’ll be tested by some real teams in a national spotlight.
The Giants and Bengals are repeats from last year’s preseason, and the Colts will meet them both in the regular season as well. The last time the Colts went to Cincinnati, it got pretty ugly for them, especially considering all of the injuries the Bengals sustained to their up-and-coming defensive unit. And the Giants, well, they’ve been a pretty big question mark for several seasons now; they could finish last in their division or win the Super Bowl, and no one would be surprised anymore so long as Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin were involved. The last time the Giants played in Indianapolis, a Super Bowl win is exactly what they got.
The Week 3 matchup with the Saints is the one everyone is already pointing at. It’s hard to call it a Super Bowl rematch since the Colts have very few players left from that 2010 iteration, but Week 3 is a key preseason week. Both teams are considered contenders with lots of weapons. With guys fighting for positions, both teams will get a chance to show the league what they’ve got in front of a national audience.
The Colts aren’t going to sneak up on anyone this year, but some of the individual players on the roster might. If they can make it to opening day with their arsenal intact, it’s going to be an interesting season.