The Indianapolis Colts will be taking on a familiar foe in Peyton Manning and his Denver Broncos on Sunday. While the “Andrew Luck vs. Peyton Manning” quarterback matchup is sure to draw the majority of the headlines, these two won’t exactly be taking the field at the same time and squaring off.
Sep 7, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) and wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (14) and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (13) and tight end Dwayne Allen (83) during the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Instead, the Colts will simply look to turn the tables, after suffering a 31-24 loss at Denver in Week 1 of this year’s regular season. What seems like ages ago will once again be a re-match of a perennial AFC heavyweight in the Broncos and a team finally looking to make a lasting mark in the AFC with Andrew Luck and the Colts.
Of course, the Colts are coming off a fairly convincing 26-10 win against the Cincinnati Bengals in the Wildcard round last weekend. However, the Broncos are a different beast entirely. Instead of Andy Dalton, they feature the aforementioned future Hall of Famer and one of the all-time greats at quarterback in Peyton Manning.
Nov 2, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (10) look over papers on the sideline during the fourth quarter of their 43-21 loss to the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Demaryius Thomas led the Broncos on the season in both receptions and receiving yards, as he had 111 catches for 1,619 receiving yards (as well as 11 touchdowns).
The Broncos’ primary end zone threat, Julius Thomas, led the team with 12 touchdowns, despite only playing in 13 games because of injury.
Not too shabby himself, Emmanuel Sanders had 101 catches for 1,404 receiving yards on the season to go with his 9 touchdowns.
It’s a dangerous Broncos’ trio to say the least.
However, it’s worth noting that in recent weeks, the Broncos’ offense has transitioned to a more run heavy attack featuring mini-bowling ball C.J. Anderson in their backfield. With Manning having lost some noticeable zip on his throws because of injury or fatigue, the team has leaned more on the legs of Anderson as the season has progressed. On the season, the 2nd-year running back has 179 carries for 849 rushing yards and 8 rushing touchdowns.
Sep 7, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) scrambles out of the pocket with Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller (58) in pursuit during the second half at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos won 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Unfortunately for the Colts’ running backs, the run game will be tougher sledding this Sunday than it was against Cincinnati. The Broncos allowed the 4th lowest yards per carry average in the NFL at 3.7 ypc.
Still, the Colts will have to maintain offensive balance, and more importantly, keep Manning and his offense on the sidelines if they want to win this game. If it gets into an offensive shootout, the game will favor Denver. Look for the Colts to try to get Dan Herron going early on the ground.
Still, the Broncos defense is beatable, as they ranked 16th in fewest points allowed per game at 22.1. While their defense can have a tremendous pass rush with Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware on the edge, they can be spread out and worn down. The Colts will look to get T.Y. Hilton going, who even despite a number of uncharacteristic drops, still managed to have 6 receptions for 103 receiving yards last Sunday. He’ll be facing off against a Broncos secondary that boasts one of the best cornerback duos in the league in Chris Harris and Aqib Talib.
With last weekend’s starting offensive line still healthy and in tact, the Colts will finally have some continuity up front. It bodes well for the team’s chances of keeping Luck upright and his ability to throw the football downfield.
It should be a great matchup, and Colts may very well be able to pull of the upset. However, there’s much more to this game than simply the two star quarterbacks all things considered.
Sep 7, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne (87) talks with Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) after the game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports