Top Storylines For Each 2024 Colts Games

Week 1: vs Houston Texans

Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Anthony Richardson VS CJ Stroud Round 2

Anthony Richardson returns from his AC Joint sprain injury to take on the best Rookie QB of 2023. CJ Stroud’s historic rookie season was one of the best seen at the Quarterback position, while the Texans as a whole had the biggest improvement from 2022 to 2023 in the NFL. Going from 3-13-1 to 10-7, worst in the AFC South to first, and even winning a playoff game was a huge accomplishment.

However the latter 2 were only possible due to a narrow season finale victory over the Colts. The Texans enter the season with a further revamped roster while the Colts get a ton of talent at key positions back healthy as well as additions to premium units like Edge, Wide Receiver, Offensive Line.

After Anthony Richardson dominated the Texans early in Week 2 (2 touchdowns in first 5 minutes of gametime), his return paired with Jonathan Taylor coming off of a 188 rushing yard performance in last years finale should give the Colts a strong rushing duo to challenge Demeco Ryan’s defense.

Week 2: @ Green Bay Packers

NFC Divisional Playoffs - Green Bay Packers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ryan Kang/Getty Images

Which Is Better: To Let Young Developing QBs Sit or Start?

Jordan Love and Anthony Richardson entered the NFL as similar players. Both entered the NFL as highly physically gifted QB prospects with questions about their development on the technical and mechanical side of Quarterbacking. Both also had a very small sample size against high quality opponents in college. However their teams have used very different tactics in preparing them for NFL play.

The Packers with Love opted to keep him on the sidelines for the first 3 seasons of his career with Aaron Rodgers still on the Packers. This allowed him to study in the film room, focus on his training, while not having the pressure to play early in his career. The lack of live reps called into question how much he could learn and grow.

Meanwhile the Colts with Richardson had him start immediately after winning the starting Quarterback job over Gardner Minshew during an impressive training camp. Richardson didn’t get many reps as a rookie due to injury, but did show development in accuracy, progression speed, and decision making in his limited snap count.

While the question of which way is right might not be answered (an it is to my opinion a case by case basis) but it will be fun to see how far each has come since their NFL draft pre draft evaluations.

Week 3: vs Chicago Bears

Chicago Bears Rookie Minicamp Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Matt Eberflus Reunion Game

Former Colts Defensive Coordinator Matt Eberflus (2018-2021) coaches against his former team for the first time since taking the Bears Head Coaching gig. As the Colts DC, Eberflus guided the Colts to 3 Top 10 points allowed defenses (2018, 2020, 2021).

Now in his return to Indianapolis, Eberflus hopes that he can take his renovated Bears roster over the top. The Bears have undergone a seismic transformation under ‘Flus, culminating most recently with the additions of potential franchise QB Caleb Williams and future top weapon Rome Odunze with 2 top 10 picks in the 2024 draft. With Caleb having Rome, Keenan Allen, DJ Moore, and Cole Kmet as his primary weapons, the Bears hope to have their first 4,000 QB passing season in franchise history. Despite their storied history, they are the only franchise in the NFL to never have a QB hit that threshold.

Adding Williams and an improved passing attack to a Bears team with Eberflus coaching up the defense (which also made improvements in the offseason) could make the Bears a dangerous team in 2024, and a fun opponent to face in this reunion game.

Week 4: vs Pittsburgh Steelers

NFL: APR 25 2024 Draft Photo by John Smolek/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Revamped Steelers Offensive Line VS Deep Colts Defensive Line Rotation

The Colts 2024 Defensive Line unit is one of the deepest in recent franchise history. Samson Ebukam, Laiatu Latu, Kwity Paye, Dayo Odeyingbo, Tyquan Lewis, DeForest Buckner, Grover Stewart, Raekwon Davis, Adetomiwa Adebawore, Taven Bryan, and Eric Johnson III are all under contract and likely make the 53 man roster. For a unit that was already top 5 in pass rush win rate and sacks in 2023, the young rotation could be even better with Latu’s addition.

However the Steelers invested heavily in revamping their Offensive front in the 2024 NFL Draft. With 1st Round Tackle Troy Fautanu, 2nd Round Center Zach Frazier, and 4th Round Guard Mason McCormick paired with 2023 Offensive Line additions Isaac Seumalo (Free Agent Guard) and Broderick Jones (Round 1 Tackle), it is clear the Steelers have made it a point of emphasis to protect either Russell Wilson or Justin Fields going forward.

Week 5: @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Will The Duval County Curse Break?

The Colts haven’t won a game in Jacksonville since 2014.

Week 6: @ Tennessee Titans

2023 NFL Draft - Round 1 Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

Anthony Richardson VS Will Levis Round 1

Anthony Richardson’s final game of 2023 was against a Ryan Tannehill-led Titans squad in Week 5. In that game Richardson was 9/12 passing for 98 yards and the Colts were up 10-6 before he departed the game with an AC joint injury. Will Levis didn’t play until Week 8, as he started the season as QB3 behind Tannehill and 2022 3rd Round Pick Malik Willis. Levis did get to start versus the Titans later in the season, losing 31-28 in Overtime. In his first experience versus the Colts, he threw 16/33 passing for 224 yards and 1 touchdown, while also being sacked 6 times and fumbling 3 times.

The Titans have decided to commit to Levis as their starting Quarterback by giving him short term Wide Receiver upgrades in Calvin Ridley & Tyler Boyd as well as adding Center Lloyd Cushenberry III coming off of a career year & rookie 1st Round Tackle JC Latham as to the Offensive Line. They even replaced franchise icon Running back Derrick Henry with a receiving back Tony Pollard. The hope is with a better supporting cast he can emerge as a franchise Quarterback.

The Colts meanwhile have brought back their entire Defense from 2023 that gave Levis fits in 2023, while also adding rookies like Edge Laiatu Latu, Linebacker Jaylon Carlies, & Safety Jaylin Simpson as well as veteran Nose Tackle Raekwon Davis. Anthony Richardson gets the vaunted Colts Offensive Line returning with added depth (Matt Goncalves and Tanor Bortolini from Rounds 3-4), to play with Jonathan Taylor for more than 2 plays, the return of Jelani Woods, and adds 2nd Round Wide Receiver Adonai Mitchell to the receiver room.

This will be the 1st battle of the two 2023 Draft Quarterbacks who were invested in highly but still needed development. Will be fascinating to see their progress and support around them.

Week 7: vs Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins v New York Jets Photo by Ryan Kang/Getty Images

Colts Cornerbacks Size VS Dolphins Wide Receivers Speed

The Colts have valued a lot of size traditionally in their Cornerbacks. The requirement of length, physicality, and athleticism in their Cornerback room has been well noted. However their young Cornerbacks will have a big test against the fastest Wide Receiver duo in the NFL.

Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle present unique matchup nightmares for most Defenses. Can the Colts corners be physical enough to disrupt their routes and use their length to adequately deflect their passes? Or will the sheer speed of the Dolphins run circles around the Colts corners?

This will be a big test of the Colts Defensive back scouting philosophy.

Week 8: @ Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts v Houston Texans Photo by Perry Knotts/Getty Images

Shane Steichen vs DeMeco Ryans

Shane Steichen and DeMeco Ryans were two of the hottest coaching hires of the 2023 Coaching hiring cycles. Both massively improved their respective AFC South teams in their 1st year on the jobs. Both have 2nd year Quarterbacks they hope can take another leap. In year 1, they split their series 1-1.

The Defensive prowess of Ryans vs the Offensive genius of Steichen gave us 2 phenomenal games in 2023, and they are sure to continue this rivalry with more entertaining matchups.

Unlike the 2023 series that had one of the longest gaps in between games (Week 2 to Week 18), this series will wrap up just prior to midseason in 2024 with just a 7 week gap in between.

Week 9: @ Minnesota Vikings

2 of the Youngest Quarterbacks in NFL Face Off

Anthony Richardson (22 years and 363 days old at the time of this articles publishing) and J.J. McCarthy (21 years and 121 days old) will be perhaps the youngest starting QB battle in the 2024 NFL schedule (JJ is the youngest, Richardson is 3rd youngest, while Drake Maye is in-between). The young QBs enter 2024 with just combined 1,127 attempts between them in the last 2 seasons (414 for Richardson, 713 for McCarthy).

These two inexperienced passers each find themselves in favorable landing spots for development, with McCarthy protected by the 2nd ranked Offensive Line in pass protection for 2023 and getting to throw to star Wide Receiver Justin Jefferson, rising 2nd year WR Jordan Addison, and Tight End TJ Hockenson. All while being coached by one of the better offensive minds in the game in Kevin O’Connell.

Richardson is entering year 2 with the Colts Tied 6th ranked pass pro Offensive Line, weapons such as Michael Pittman Jr., Josh Downs, Adonai Mitchell, and Alec Pierce outside, and getting to join forces in the backfield with Jonathan Taylor. Having the aforementioned Shane Steichen designing the Offense certainly helps as well.

Expect a high octane game between these two teams with a lot of scoring.

Week 10: vs Buffalo Bills

AFC Divisional Playoffs - Kansas City Chiefs v Buffalo Bills Photo by Perry Knotts/Getty Images

The New QB Prototype Battle Royale

When Anthony Richardson was drafted, the biggest hope for him was that he would steadily work on his passing fundamentals to improve his accuracy over the years while using his insane athletic gifts to raise the floor of the Colts Offense in the short term with all the creative ways a play-caller can use him. The blueprint for that career arc: Josh Allen.

Both Allen and Richardson entered the league as inaccurate Quarterbacks but with superhuman physical prowess. The arm strength and ball velocity paired with electric rushing ability for each is nearly unmatched by most Quarterbacks. Allen was able to become a perennial MVP candidate level Quarterback by year 3 of his career after improving his accuracy every prior year, whereas Richardson did show a jump in his on target% and completion percentage from his final year at Florida to his small sample size of his 1st NFL season. That jump still isn’t enough however, as Richardson strives to continue to progress in this facet of Quarterbacking.

While Richardson still has a ways to go, seeing Allen himself in person could be a valuable learning experience for him. It certainly will be an entertaining matchup to watch for those who love ridiculous QB highlights.

Week 11: @ New York Jets

New York Jets v New England Patriots Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images

Breece Hall vs Jonathan Taylor

Much could be said about the battle of ARs (Richardson and Jets Quarterback Aaron Rodgers), but how about the Running back matchup this game? Breece Hall and Jonathan Taylor are two of the more exciting RBs to watch in the NFL when healthy.

Hall bounced back from a torn ACL that cut short his rookie year with a sensational 1,585 total yard and 9 total TD season. Jonathan Taylor during his last fully healthy season hit over 2,100 total yards and 20 TDs, but dealt with injuries the last 2 seasons. However with Taylor having a return to form in the final couple of games of 2023, a fully healthy battle between these two would be a sensational showcase.

Week 12: vs Detroit Lions

Detroit Lions v Chicago Bears Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Offensive Mastermind Showdown + Old Testament Deities Battle at Wide Receiver

My adoration of Ben Johnson’s offensive brilliance has been long established. He was my top choice for the Colts Head coaching job in the 2023 hiring cycle before he announced his return to Detroit. He was again my top candidate for any opening in 2024 cycle before he once again opted to stay with the Lions. His schematic versatility, play designs, variety of concepts well executed, and ability to scheme up mismatches turned the 25th ranked Lions Offense to top 5 in each of his 2 seasons as their Offensive Coordinator and has netted him a lot looks at coaching openings.

However the Colts getting Shane Steichen as Head Coach has proved to be quite fortuitous so far as well, with the Colts becoming a top 10 scoring offense and having career rebounding seasons for numerous Colts players on both sides of the ball. This will be a chess match between 2 Grandmasters of Offensive play-calling and designing.

My colleagues Zach Hicks of Sports Illustrated and Colts Film Room of The Blue Stable will have a field day breaking down this game.

Another fun fact about this game: Two Wide Receivers named after deities will take the field, both of whom had draft-day slides and have immense chips on their shoulders becaZuse of it.

Amon-Ra St. Brown was named after the supreme deity of Egyptian religion: Amun-Ra.

Adonai Mitchell’s first name is the same as the most common Hebrew word for God in Judaism. The translation is “lord” or “master”.

Wonder if Amon-Ra will break into song for a rendition of “Playing with the Big Boys Now” in front of Adonai, Prince of Egypt style. This will definitely be a game worthy of retelling around the Passover Seder table.

Week 13: @ New England Patriots

Indianapolis Colts v New England Patriots Photo by Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Rivalry Renewed?

Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have both long left their original teams and subsequently retired, but there is certainly no love lost between these two franchises and their fanbases. There have been 3 matchups in the past 3 years between these two franchises post-Brady leaving the Patriots:

  • A Thrilling 27-17 Win at Lucas Oil Stadium in 2021 capped off by an iconic Jonathan Taylor game winning breakaway Touchdown.
  • A 3-26 schelacking of a Loss in 2022 in Foxborough.
  • A gritty 10-6 Win in Germany in 2023, which might have been the final nail in the coffin of Belichick’s time with the Patriots.

While the Colts had a 2-1 record against the Brady-less Belichick era, the evil empire has been vanquished, (though knowing Palpatine Belichick, he will somehow return inexplicably elsewhere only to be immediately defeated once more) a new era has begun in New England.

Jerrod Mayo is now the successor to Belichick at Head Coach, while Eliot Wolf has been named their General Manager. Gone is their 1st attempt at “the next Brady” in Mac Jones, in is the potential upgrade in Drake Maye via the 3rd overall pick in the draft.

Unlike the aforementioned rookie Quarterback JJ McCarthy, Drake Maye might not start for all of his first season due to the presence of a more than capable backup Quarterback in Jacoby Brissett. Brissett is a very familiar face for both teams as he is now on his second stint with the Patriots after previously being traded to the Colts to be their starting QB in 2017 and 2019 (with backup seasons behind Luck and Rivers in 2018 and 2020).

No matter if it is their new potential franchise QB or the familiar journeyman under center, this game will likely bring out intense passion from both fanbases of this old rivalry. Who knows, perhaps the rivalry will truly renew one day…

Week 14: Bye Week

Rest & Recovery For Players

Get healthy, get some rest, and prepare for the final 4 game stretch of the regular season!

Week 15: @ Denver Broncos

Super Bowl XLIV Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Can Colts Conquer Old Sean Payton Curse?

Outside of Bill Belichick, perhaps no coach has given the Colts more headaches over the years than Sean Payton. Ever since the infamous Colts vs Saints Super Bowl, the Colts have yet to beat the Saints, losing 3 straight times to a Payton-led Saints team from 2011-2019 as well as in 2023 to the Payton-less Saints.

Some Colts fans even hold a grudge against Payton for Bountygate, where his Defensive Coordinator at the time Greg Williams was putting bounties on opposing players to incentivize injuring them. Previously Williams was with Washington where his defense landed a suspiciously late and flagrant QB hit on Peyton Manning that began his neck issues.

Now Payton is back from retirement with the Denver Broncos, who the Colts boast a slim 15-14 all time series edge over. Can the Colts overcome this old foe with a new Coach and a revamped system?

Week 16: vs Tennessee Titans

Jacksonville Jaguars v Tennessee Titans Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

Old Titans Wide Receivers vs Young Colts Wide Receivers

This late in the season, the returns of both the Colts and Titans very different directions to address weapons for their 2nd year passers will be apparent. The Colts boast the 3rd youngest Wide Receiver trio in the NFL, whereas the Titans have the oldest by a good margin. The Colts have drafted a WR on Day 2 in 5 of the last 6 drafts, with 4 of those picks (Michael Pittman Jr., Alec Pierce, Josh Downs, and AD Mitchell) being under contract for the next 2-4 years.


Meanwhile the Titans went all in on 2024 being an evaluation year for Will Levis with veteran Wide Receiver with 32 year old DeAndre Hopkins on an expiring contract joined by 30 year olds Calvin Ridley (4 year deal) and slot Tyler Boyd (1 year deal).

The Titans Wide Receiver trio has heading into 2023 in 348 career games combined:

  • 1,765 Receptions
  • 22,713 Yards
  • 145 Touchdowns

Now we shall see how all 3 do together for at least 1 year. The Colts young Wide Receiver room will be a multi-year evaluation as they will grow together to gain chemistry with their young Quarterback. Will the Titans all in gamble have paid off by this game? Will the Colts young weapons core by now have grown together to form a dangerous quartet already?

Week 17: @ New York Giants

NFL: NOV 05 Colts at Panthers Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Biggest 2024 EDGE Trade VS Earliest 2024 EDGE Draft Pick

The New York Giants made a blockbuster trade for Edge Rusher Brian Burns, nabbing him for a 2nd round pick, a 2024 5th round pick swap, and a future 5th. They hope the addition of him will jumpstart their pass rush which only had 34 sacks (28th) and were just 30th in pressure rate according to NFL’s Next Gen Stats.

Meanwhile the Colts got a new pass rusher via the 2024 Draft with Laiatu Latu 15th overall. Latu is entering the NFL as the most polished pass rusher some have scouted in a decade, and his 1st ranked True Pass Rush Win Rate (and 2nd ranked Pass Rush win Rate) among notable Edge rushers in the last 10 draft classes speaks volumes to his skill. He is being added to a deep Pass Rushing unit, with 51 sacks in 2023 coming predominantly from 4 players with 8-9.5 sacks (Samson Ebukam, DeForest Buckner, Kwity Paye, and Dayo Odeyingbo) as well as 8th in pressure rate per Next Gen Stats.

Both teams put a premium on their pass rushes this season, so it will be interesting to see how each does in that area in 2024.

Week 18: vs Jacksonville Jaguars

The Chosen One vs The Most Athletic QB Ever

Trevor Lawrence was once hyped as the best Quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck. A generational talent, Lawrence went first overall to the Jaguars and gave them hope that they have finally found a Quarterback who can usher in a new era of stability and dominance to the lowly franchise.

Fast forward 3 seasons, and Trevor Lawrence hasn’t quite lived up to those lofty expectations thus far. His rookie season was a disaster with him leading the NFL in Interceptions with 17. However that has largely been mulliganed due to the egregious incompetence of former Head Coach Urban Meyer and the at the time terrible roster talent surrounding Lawrence. His 2nd season was a huge step forward, improving in every aspect of quarterbacking and looking much more like his Clemson days with a new coach and better talent around him. He looked like a borderline Top 10 Quarterback, and even had a miraculous playoff comeback to beat the Chargers 31-30 (which was the 3rd largest comeback in postseason history).

Lawrence in 2023 however didn’t take the leap to superstardom elite level QB that was anticipated. After a strong 8-3 start looking like the Jaguars were on the precipice of a potential 1 seed in the playoffs, the wheels fell off. The Jaguars went 1-5 in the final 6 weeks of the season (only win being without Lawrence but against the worst team in the NFL, the Carolina Panthers), with Lawrence himself having 13 combined fumbles and interceptions in his final 5 games. The flashes of dominance were there, especially early on in the season, but the consistency isn’t.

Lawrence enters the final year of his rookie contract (before the 5th year option) with a lot to prove. In this regular season finale, his QB matchup is against another similarly hyped up (but in a different way) Quarterback in Anthony Richardson. Richardson is the most athletic Quarterback in NFL testing history and showed flashes of his dominant traits in 2023 himself, before injuries derailed his season. Should Richardson stay healthier in 2024 this finale will be against the same team he began his career against, with the 2023 season opener being vs the Jaguars.

Both Quarterbacks may have very different playstyles, stages of development, and expectations in their careers, but the 2024 season finale will be highly important for them. The potential playoff implications for either/both teams, the questions each have had entering this season, and the need to prove oneself remain at the forefront of the spotlight for both of them. The tension could be thick in the air at Lucas Oil Stadium yet again for Week 18 as the division rivals face off in a potentially vital game for both Quarterbacks.

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