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NFL Schedule 2011: Indianapolis Colts Headed for a Tough Season

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NFL Schedule 2011: Indianapolis Colts Headed for a Tough Season
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Once again, the Colts will lead off in Houston, against their division rivals

As a division leader, the Indianapolis Colts' schedule was sure to be difficult once again.

According to NFL.com, the Colts have the fifth-hardest schedule in the league, behind the Panthers, Bills, Broncos and Lions.

By contrast, the Patriots have the 16th hardest schedule and the Steelers, 28th.

Here is the full schedule for the Colts' 2011-2012 season:

Week 1 - @ Houston Texans, Sun. Sept. 11, 1 p.m.

Week 2 - vs. Cleveland Browns, Sun. Sept. 18, 1 p.m.

Week 3 - vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, Sun. Sept. 25, 8:20 p.m.

Week 4 - @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Mon. Oct. 3, 8:30 p.m.

Week 5 - vs. Kansas City Chiefs, Sun. Oct. 9, 1 p.m.

Week 6 - @ Cincinnati Bengals, Sun. Oct. 16, 1 p.m.

Week 7 - @ New Orleans Saints, Sun. Oct. 23, 8:20 p.m.

Week 8 - @ Tennessee Titans, Sun. Oct. 30, 1 p.m.

Week 9 - vs. Atlanta Falcons, Sun. Nov. 6, 1 p.m.

Week 10 - vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, Sun. Nov. 13, 1 p.m.

Week 11 - BYE

Week 12 - vs. Carolina Panthers, Sun. Nov. 27, 1 p.m.

Week 13 - @ New England Patriots, Sun. Dec. 4, 8:20 p.m.

Week 14 - @ Baltimore Ravens, Sun. Dec. 11, 1 p.m.

Week 15 - vs. Tennessee Titans, Sun. Dec. 18, 1 p.m.

Week 16 - vs. Houston Texans, Thu. Dec. 22, 8:20 p.m.

Week 17 - @ Jacksonville Jaguars, Sun. Jan. 1, 1 p.m.

Elsa/Getty Images

There are a few things to notice right away:

The Colts once again open up at Houston, a game that could be scary for Colts fans. The loss to the Texans this year on opening weekend was an indicator of the slow start to come and could be again.

Hopefully, the Colts come to this meeting a little more prepared.

It's nice for the Colts to have the Steelers at home, especially after a home game against the Browns. That should give the Colts some momentum going into the Pittsburgh game.

Monday Night Football at Tampa Bay! We all know what happened the last time that happened!

Sneaking that New Orleans game between two other road games is brutal; that's definitely going to be a tough one.

It is wonderful to have a late bye for once. It seems like the Colts always get a bye in the first six weeks of the season. That should work out wonderfully in terms of resting up for the end of the season and playoffs.

Speaking of the bye week, what should we set the over/under line at for how many touchdowns Manning throws versus Jerry Richardson's Panthers in Week 12 (coming off of the bye). I say five.

Like the Steelers game, the Patriots game is set up nicely by the bye week and then Carolina. That momentum going into Foxboro should be huge. Can't wait for the next round of Colts vs. Patriots, a matchup that is one of the best games of the season every year.

That five-game stretch to end the season will be a good indicator of how tough the team is. Two away games versus cold-weather playoff teams, followed by all three division rivals?

That will make or break the season right there. The Colts will need to be peaking at the right time for those.

Overall, the Colts' schedule is once again, very demanding. However, the Colts look to have a 10- to 12-win team and if the injuries regress to the mean, I would expect at least 12 wins by the 2011 Colts.

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