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Indianapolis Colts' 2022 schedule: Mahomes, Herbert and rest of AFC West await Indy

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INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts' 2022 schedule was released along with the rest of the NFL slate Thursday.

The season will kick off Thursday, Sept. 8, with the Los Angeles Rams hosting the Buffalo Bills at SoFi Stadium. ESPN opens its schedule with Monday Night Football on Sept. 12 featuring the Denver Broncos at the Seattle Seahawks.

The NFL expanded to 17 regular-season games last season, and the final regular-season games will be played Jan. 8, 2023. The playoffs begin Jan. 14 and continue through Super Bowl LVII on Feb. 12 in Glendale, Arizona.

Here's what's in store for the Colts:

Schedule

Sept. 11: at Houston

Sept. 18: at Jacksonville

Sept. 25: vs. Kansas City

Oct. 2: vs. Tennessee

Oct. 6: at Denver (TNF)

Oct. 16: vs. Jacksonville

Oct. 23: at Tennessee

Oct. 30: vs. Washington

Nov. 6: at New England

Nov. 13: at Las Vegas

Nov. 20: vs. Philadelphia

Nov. 28: vs. Pittsburgh (MNF)

Dec. 4: at Dallas (SNF)

Dec. 11: Bye

Dec. 17/18: at Minnesota

Dec. 26: vs. Chargers (MNF)

Jan. 1: at NY Giants

Jan. 7/8: vs. Houston

Strength of schedule: T-26, .469

Biggest takeaway

The Colts will have an opportunity to seize control of the AFC South early in the season because five of their first seven games are against division counterparts. They'll be done playing the Jaguars and Titans before candy is even passed out on Halloween. Getting off to a strong start will be necessary because the Colts and the rest of the AFC South face the AFC West this season. That division has the best group of quarterbacks in Derek Carr with the Raiders, Patrick Mahomes with the Chiefs, Justin Herbert with the Chargers and new Denver starter Russell Wilson. Colts owner Jim Irsay doesn't have to worry about complaining over the lack of primetime games anymore because they have four of them next season, with two at home.

Revenge game

Don't laugh, but Week 2 at Jacksonville. How can you forget that it was the Colts' loss at Jacksonville in Week 18 that knocked them out of the playoffs last season? That loss caused Irsay to have general manager Chris Ballard and coach Frank Reich meet him at the team's facility as soon as the team returned to Indianapolis after the game. Playing in Jacksonville has been a nightmare for the Colts. They haven't won on the road against there since the 2014 season. The Colts even went all the way across the pond to London to suffer one of those losses to the Jaguars in 2016.

What Vegas thinks

The oddsmakers have the Colts win total at 9.5. The Colts can't rely as much on running back Jonathan Taylor like they did last season if they expect to meet or surpass that total. The young receivers, led by Michael Pittman Jr., will have to step up and help Taylor and new starting quarterback Matt Ryan if the Colts expect to go toe-to-toe with their schedule.

Bold prediction

The Colts will beat Patriots coach Bill Belichick at Gillette Stadium for the first time since 2006 in Week 9. The Colts have lost six straight in New England by an average of 19.6 points in that span.