The Colts will open their fifth season under coach Frank Reich and first with quarterback Matt Ryan with a road matchup against the Houston Texans on Sept. 11, the team announced Thursday.
They'll follow that with a Week 2 trip to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars, the team that knocked them out of playoff contention in Week 18 last season.
Indianapolis opens the season with back-to-back road games for the second time in four seasons but just the fifth time since the team moved from Baltimore in 1984.
The NFL released full schedules for all 32 teams Thursday, marking the second year of the 17-game schedule. The upcoming slate will begin Sept. 8, when the defending champion Rams take on the Bills on NBC.
The Bears get the Matt Eberflus Era underway at home Sept. 11 against the 49ers in what could be a matchup of 2021 first-round quarterbacks if Trey Lance is starting for San Francisco opposite Justin Fields.
Defending AFC champion Cincinnati opens its slate at home against divisional rival Pittsburgh, which is entering its first post-Ben Roethlisberger campaign.
The Bengals will face Kansas City at home in Week 13 in a rematch of last year's AFC championship game.
The Colts belatedly begin their home schedule in Week 3 at 1 p.m. Sept. 25 against six-time defending AFC West champion Kansas City and 2018 MVP Patrick Mahomes. The matchup is the start of a crucial three-game stretch for the Colts, who will next take on the defending AFC South champion Titans at home and then travel to Denver to take on the Broncos, led by longtime Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, on Thursday night in Week 5 on Oct. 6.
The NFL schedule-makers also appeased Colts owner Jim Irsay, who has long railed against the league's insistence on putting Indianapolis on the road in prime time. From 2017 to 2021, the Colts played 14 prime-time games and 11 were on the road, including a stretch of eight in a row over a three-year span.
“I don't understand that,” Irsay said in 2020. “It's something that I just have to pursue, and you know me, I protect the Colts, and I will fight as hard as I can to accomplish the things we do.”
This year, the Colts start their prime time slate with the trip to Denver, but host “Monday Night Football” twice – a Week 12 game against Pittsburgh on Nov. 28 and a Week 16 meeting with the Chargers the day after Christmas. In between, Indianapolis is scheduled to play “Sunday Night Football” against the Cowboys in Jerry Jones' Dallas football palace Dec. 4.
Indianapolis will host two “Monday Night Football” games for the first time since 2005. The game against Pittsburgh will be the team's first Monday home game since 2015.
In addition to hosting those primetime matchups, the Colts welcome the newly renamed Washington Commanders to Indianapolis on Oct. 30 in Week 8. It will be a return to the Circle City for Washington quarterback Carson Wentz, who threw 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions in his one season in Indianapolis last year, but went just 17 for 29 for 185 yards with one score and one interception in the season-ending loss to Jacksonville.
The Bears get their first crack at rival Green Bay, which has won the last three NFC North titles, in Week 2 at Lambeau Field on “Sunday Night Football.” The Packers are still led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the league's two-time defending Most Valuable Player, but will be missing All-Pro receiver Davante Adams, who now plays for the Raiders.
The Colts take on those Raiders in Las Vegas in Week 10 on Nov. 13, another stop in their tour through the AFC West.
The Bears get back-to-back primetime games against Wentz's Commanders in Week 6 at home (“Thursday Night Football”) and at Gillette Stadium against the Patriots in Week 7 (“Monday Night Football”) with 10 days of rest in between.
Chicago plays Green Bay at Soldier Field in Week 13, which could be a crucial clash if the Bears take care of business during a soft portion of their schedule in the preceding weeks.
Before playing the Packers, the Monsters of the Midway have consecutive games against the Lions, Falcons and Jets. Only the matchup against the Lions is at home, but none of those teams won more than seven games last season.
The Bears get their bye in Week 14 after facing Green Bay, and the Colts are on the bye the same week.
Much like in 2021, Indianapolis finishes with what should be winnable games against the Giants in New Jersey and at home against the Texans.
The Bears close with divisional clashes against Detroit on the road and Minnesota at home.
Sept. 11: Colts at Houston, 1 p.m.
Sept. 18: Colts at Jacksonville, 1 p.m.
Sept. 25: Kansas City at Colts, 1 p.m.
Oct. 2: Tennessee at Colts, 1 p.m.
Oct. 6: Colts at Denver, 8:15 p.m.
Oct. 18: Jacksonville at Colts, 1 p.m.
Oct. 23: Colts at Tennessee, 1 p.m.
Oct. 30: Washington at Colts, 4:25 p.m.
Nov. 6: Colts at New England, 1 p.m.
Nov. 13: Colts at Las Vegas, 4:05 p.m.
Nov. 20: Philadelphia at Colts, 1 p.m.
Nov. 28: Pittsburgh at Colts, 8:15 p.m.
Dec. 4: Colts at Dallas, 8:20 p.m.
Dec. 17/18: Colts at Minnesota, TBD
Dec. 26: L.A. Chargers at Colts, 8:15 p.m.
Jan. 1: Colts at N.Y. Giants, 1 p.m.
Jan. 7/8: Houston at Colts, TBD
Sept. 11: San Francisco at Chicago, 1 p.m.
Sept. 18: Chicago at Green Bay, 8:20 p.m.
Sept. 25: Houston at Chicago, 1 p.m.
Oct. 2: Chicago at N.Y. Giants, 1 p.m.
Oct. 9: Chicago at Minnesota, 1 p.m.
Oct. 13: Washington at Chicago, 8:15 p.m.
Oct. 24: Chicago at New England, 8:15 p.m.
Oct. 30: Chicago at Dallas, 1 p.m.
Nov. 6: Miami at Chicago, 1 p.m.
Nov. 13: Detroit at Chicago, 1 p.m.
Nov. 20: Chicago at Atlanta, 1 p.m.
Nov. 27: Chicago at N.Y. Jets, 1 p.m.
Dec. 4: Green Bay at Chicago, 1 p.m.
Dec. 18: Philadelphia at Chicago, 1 p.m.
Dec. 24: Buffalo at Chicago, 1 p.m.
Jan. 1: Chicago at Detroit, 1 p.m.
Jan. 7/8: Minnesota at Chicago, TBD