The opponents have been set since the end of last season, but the NFL released its entire 2022 schedule on May 12. As usual, there will be no shortage of entertaining matchups.
For Indianapolis, the Colts will play nine regular season road games for the first time in history. Nine away matchups in 18 weeks makes at least one set of back-to-back road games inevitable.
The Colts will have two pairs of back-to-back away contests, including one to begin the season in Weeks 1 and 2. The other pair will come in Weeks 9 and 10.
But none of those games made my list of the three most important matchups for the Colts in the 2022 regular season.
Here are the three most important:
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Week 3: Kansas City Chiefs, September 25
Whether it’s in the regular season, playoffs or both, the Colts are going to have to beat Kansas City if they want to advance to the Super Bowl.
The Chiefs have either won the Super Bowl or lost to the champion in three of the last four years. Despite all the chatter for the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals this offseason, the Chiefs remain one of the top teams in the entire league.
The Colts drawing an early-season matchup with the Chiefs might not be the worst thing. Historically, Patrick Mahomes has been a fast starter, as he owns an 11-2 career record in September. But both of those defeats came last year, and it’s possible the turnover on the Chiefs roster could lead to another slow start this fall.
Adding to the excitement of this matchup, Lucas Oil Stadium should be rocking for the home opener.
Indianapolis will know where it stands early in the season after this matchup against one of the premiere teams in the AFC. And even though it’s a September showdown, the contest could have ramifications for playoff seeding.
Week 7: @Tennessee Titans, October 23
Division games could make up a list like this every year. But Indianapolis’ biggest competition in the AFC South should again be the Titans. The two teams square off twice in October, the second matchup coming in Nashville.
The Colts lead the all-time series with the Titans, 35-20, but Tennessee has won three straight in the rivalry. The Titans defeated the Colts twice last season, including a 34-31 overtime defeat on Halloween.
Beating Tennessee, especially on the road, will be key to Indianapolis breaking its division title drought. The Colts had won three straight at Tennessee before losing in Nashville last season.
Week 16: Los Angeles Chargers, Dec. 26
In the second-to-last game of the 2022 calendar year, the Colts will host the Chargers on Monday Night Football.
This matchup isn’t a slam dunk for this list like the first two. The Colts have an important visit to Jacksonville during Week 2, in which they hope to exercise some demons.
Based on his comments about previous Colts quarterback Carson Wentz, owner Jim Irsay probably has the home showdown against the Washington Commanders on his list of most important matchups. The Colts also have visits to New England and Las Vegas along with primetime matchups with Pittsburgh and Dallas.
But like the Colts, the Chargers have made some major improvements to their roster this offseason after just missing the playoffs in 2021. Both the Colts and Chargers hope to contend for a lot more than just a wild card spot this season.
At the very least, that’s what will likely be on the line when the two teams meet in Week 16. They could also battle for AFC playoff seeding.
The fact they meet in late December will just magnify the importance of this matchup.