Owner Jim Irsay said the Colts needed to win the opener. They didn't, here's what it means

Nat Newell
Indianapolis Star
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Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay has made it clear: He wants to win the season opener.

“It’s pretty funny, I got a text message (from Irsay) about 1:57 in the morning the other day just talking about how important Week 1 is and winning the opener,’’ Colts linebacker Darius Leonard told the media Thursday. “Going into Year 4, I haven’t won Game 1 yet and you want to nip that in the bud early."

It didn't happen as the Seattle Seahawks beat the Colts 28-16.

The Colts have now lost eight consecutive openers. Based on the spreads -- the Colts have been favored in three of the game -- there was only a .6% chance they would lose all eight. And don't blame it on Chuck Pagano. There was a 10.4% chance based on spreads the Colts would lose his final four openers. For Reich, it's 6.3%.

Irsay has seen two of the longest opener losing streak in NFL history in Indianapolis. The Colts lost 8 consecutive from 1984 — their first season in Indy — to 1991, and are currently on an 8-game losing streak, including giving Jacksonville its only victory in the opener last season. Only Cleveland (2005-17, 13 games) and Philadelphia (1968-1976, 9) have had longer opening-game losing streaks. 

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Owner of the Indianapolis Colts, Jim Irsay, holds a press conference at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, Indianapolis, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020.

And Irsay isn't wrong.

Since adopting the 12-team playoff format in 1990, 53.4% of the teams that win the opener make the playoffs. Only 24.7% of the teams that start 0-1 get to the postseason, according to's stathead index.

The Colts have won 13 openers since 1990, making the playoffs 10 times, 76.9% of the time. They've lost the opener 18 times, making the postseason 8 times, 44.4% of the time. Indianapolis has made the playoffs 58.1% of the time overall.

“We all know the opener is a big deal, especially when it’s a home opener, especially when your owner is letting you know it’s a big deal,” Colts coach Frank Reich said to the media this week. “I think we’ve all gotten that message. I would like to deliver him one of these here before too long.”

Contact IndyStar Deputy Sports Editor Nat Newell at (317) 444-6182 or Follow him on Twitter: @NatJNewell.

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