INDIANAPOLIS – While Indianapolis heads into its eleventh season in the AFC South, it will open the 2012 regular season by facing NFC North teams in three of its first four outings.
The Colts will open the season on Sunday, September 9 by visiting Chicago. This marks the third consecutive season Indianapolis has opened a season away from Lucas Oil Stadium.
The club returns home in week two to face Minnesota at 1:00 p.m. It represents the first of eight Sunday home games that kickoff in that time slot over the course of the season. Jacksonville visits Indianapolis on September 23 before an open date is observed on the last Sunday of the month.
The Colts open the second month of the season by hosting Green Bay on October 7. This is the third of four NFC North opponents the Colts will face in 2012. The Colts will visit Detroit on December 2 to round out action against the NFC.
The Colts also meet teams from the AFC East in this year's scheduling pattern. The Colts visit the New York Jets on October 14 and New England on November 18. Indianapolis will host Miami on November 4 and Buffalo on November 25.
Based on divisional finish from last season, Indianapolis will host Cleveland on October 21 and will visit Kansas City on December 23.
After the first AFC South game against Jacksonville in week three, the Colts do not return to divisional action until meeting Tennessee on the road on October 28.
The Colts travel to Jacksonville for a November 8 contest with the Jaguars. The AFC South clash on Thursday evening in EverBank Field is the only non-Sunday, non-1:00 p.m. game scheduled for the Colts this season.
Indianapolis concludes its season series at home with Tennessee on December 9. Indianapolis meets Houston in two of its last three games. The Colts visit Reliant Stadium on December 16 before ending the regular season at home against the Texans on December 30.
This marks the third straight year all NFL teams play divisional games in Week 17.
This is the fifth consecutive year the Colts have played an AFC South game in November or December on the NFL Network. The Colts won in Jacksonville the first two times (31-24, 2008; 35-31, 2009), then topped Tennessee in 2010, 38-20, before beating Houston last year, 19-16.
This marks the eighth consecutive season, and the ninth time in 10 years, the Colts and New England have met in November, or later. It will be the 13th time the teams have squared off during the regular season or the playoffs since the 2002 NFL Realignment. That is the most number of such non-divisional battles in the NFL.
MOST REGULAR-SEASON/PLAYOFF GAMES FOR NON-DIVISION OPPONENTS SINCE 2002 SEASON (2012 GAMES NOT INCLUDED)
Indianapolis Colts-New England Patriots, 12 times
Arizona Cardinals-Carolina Panthers, 10 times
Indianapolis Colts-Denver Broncos, 9 times
Indianapolis Colts-Baltimore Ravens, 9 times
Atlanta Falcons-Philadelphia Eagles, 9 times
Denver Broncos-New England Patriots, 9 times
Indianapolis faces five opponents who made the playoffs last season (Home: Houston, Green Bay; Away: Houston, New England, Detroit). Tennessee (9-7 in 2011) joins those 2011 playoff participants as the sixth team the Colts will face this year that had a winning record last season. Counting the 8-8 marks of Chicago and the Jets, nine of the Colts' 16 2012 games come against opponents that had records of .500 or better last year.
This marks the club's 29th season in Indianapolis. The Colts have opened at home 15 times. The longest streak of seasons with openers at home was six (1991-96), while the longest streak of opening seasons on the road was seven (2000-06).
In addition to the regular season schedule being announced, the preseason opponents are set. Indianapolis hosts St. Louis on Sunday, August 12 at 1:30 p.m. The Colts face Pittsburgh in a nationally-telecast preseason outing on Sunday, August 19 at 8:00 p.m. Indianapolis has a road date at Washington on Saturday, August 25 at 4:00 p.m., then hosts Cincinnati on Thursday, August 30 at 7:00 p.m.