The NFL's 1982 season was disrupted by a strike by the league's players. In the Colts' first game after the end of the strike (on November 21, 1982), they were shut out by the New York Jets 37–0. The following week, they were shut out by the Buffalo Bills 20–0, in a game in which the Colts' offense never crossed the 50 yard line. But the week after that, they lost by only three points to the playoff-bound and defending AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals.
A 57-day long players' strike reduced the 1982 season from a 16-game schedule per team to 9. Because of the shortened season, the NFL adopted a special 16-team playoff tournament. Division standings were ignored. Eight teams from each conference were seeded 1–8 based on their regular season records.