Regardless of their schedule, we're expecting Indianapolis to experience a great deal of growing pains. Presumptive No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck will face a few formidable defenses this year, but we'll see up against premier signal-callers like Matthew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.
In addition to playing their regular division games, the Colts will play teams in the AFC East and the NFC North.
No easy task.
Now, let's look at their entire schedule:
Week 1 (9/9): at Chicago Bears, 1 P.M. CBS
Week 2 (9/16): vs. Minnesota Vikings, 1 P.M. FOX
Week 3 (9/23): vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 P.M. CBS
Week 4: Bye Week
Week 5 (10/7): Green Bay Packers 1 P.M. FOX
Week 6 (10/14): at New York Jets, 1 P.M. CBS
Week 7 (10/21): vs. Cleveland Browns, 1 P.M. CBS
Week 8 (10/28): at Tennessee Titans, 1 P.M. CBS
Week 9 (11/4): vs. Miami Dolphins, 1 P.M. CBS
Week 10 (11/8): at Jacksonville Jaguars, 8:20 P.M. NFL Network
Week 11 (11/18): at New England Patriots, 1 P.M. CBS
Week 12 (11/25): vs. Buffalo Bills, 1 P.M. CBS
Week 13 (12/2): at Detroit Lions, 1 P.M. CBS
Week 14 (12/9): vs. Tennessee Titans, 1 P.M. CBS
Week 15 (12/16): at Houston Texans, 1 P.M. CBS
Week 16 (12/23): at Kansas City Chiefs, 1 P.M. CBS
Week 17 (12/30): vs. Houston Texans, 1 P.M. CBS
The Colts' division isn't necessarily difficult, but the Houston Texans remain the class of the AFC South and a legitimate Super Bowl contender in the AFC.
Playing the NFC North will be tremendously tough, but it'll be a great learning experience for Luck and many of the youthful players on Indianapolis' roster.
New England is still the favorite in the AFC, and the Buffalo Bills revamped their defensive line via free agency.
We'll really see how far along they are in games against the Bills, Bears, Jaguars and Titans in 2012.
Most Pivotal Matchup
Outside of the always-important divisional games, the most pivotal matchup is the Nov. 25 game with the Buffalo Bills at home. Buffalo rebuilt its defensive line this offseason, and it will certainly test the pocket awareness of Andrew Luck—again, assuming the Colts pick him in the draft—as he enters the home stretch of his rookie campaign.
The Bills are certainly beatable.
It'll be a good measuring stick for the rebuilding Colts late in the season.