Originally posted on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 9/7/12

When the NFL schedule first came out, Colts 101 took a stab at predicting the Indianapolis Colts 2012 record.  That was before the NFL Draft and any notion of what the team would look like. 

At that time, we said 7-9 was a distinct possibility. After watching the Colts up close this preseason and also getting a look at their opponents, I'm still saying that 7-9 is where the Colts will finish.

The way the schedule is set up, however, should keep Colts fans more than interested in the season's final games. After this week's start in Chicago against the Bears, who many pundits see as a dark horse Super Bowl contender, the schedule plays out very favorably all the way through Thanksgiving.

The Colts play six of their eight home games before December. That's a tremendous help for a young team learning to play with each other. Learning offensive line calls, quarterback cadences and pre-snap audibles will be much easier in front of the home folks rather than having to deal with the noise of opponents' fans. 

The quality of opponents early on is conducive to keeping the Colts competitive as well. Of their first 11 games, only three standout as games where the Colts will be prohibitive underdogs: this week in Chicago, Oct. 7 at home against Green Bay and at New England on Nov. 18.

On the other hand, the Colts should be favored in at least four games, all at home, when they face Minnesota, Jacksonville, Cleveland and Miami. If those games go according to Hoyle, that puts the Colts at 4-3.

The other four games before December include trips to New York, Tennessee and Jacksonville with a home game against Buffalo. New York's offense looks anemic right now, and by week six they could be in the midst of a New York media frenzy if things don't go well early. Both Tennessee and Buffalo could be playoff teams, or they could be in the top ten of the draft. Who knows? Jacksonville looks to be…well, Jacksonville.

Buoyed by the enthusiasm of early success, let's give the Colts two of those four, a win at Jacksonville and at home against Buffalo. That puts the Colts at 6-5 heading into the month of December. Houston will likely be out of reach for the AFC South crown, but that record should put the Colts squarely in the wild-card scenarios.

The problem will be December. The Colts are on the road for four of five of those games and all five opponents, Detroit, Tennessee, Houston (twice) and Kansas City should be in the thick of the playoff race. This will prove too much for the inexperienced Colts.

I'm giving them just one win in the month of December, at home against the Titans. Even then, the Colts would head into their final game at home against the Texans at 7-8. We've seen .500 teams make the playoffs many times in the NFL. 

A 7-9 record would be a huge improvement over last year's 2-14 mark. It would also, in my estimation, make GM Ryan Grigson a candidate for NFL Executive of the Year. Already it's apparent that Grigson has worked a minor miracle restoring the Colts' roster to some semblance of competitiveness. If Chuck Pagano and the players can follow through on that and become contenders, Grigson will be hailed as a personnel genius.

Of course, injuries will play a factor. The Colts aren't very deep at some key positions. If Andrew Luck, Reggie Wayne or Jerraud Powers miss any significant time, all bets are off. But for now, Colts fans should be very excited about where the "monster" is and be confident it will be fully built very soon.

Be sure to check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.

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