I know the Colts are undefeated. I know they have the best quarterback in the NFL. I know they are hosting the Broncos.
But unlike certain past trips to Indianapolis, the Broncos have a shot to win.
Most Broncos fans have a tough time forgetting the debacles of playoffs past in Indianapolis. If they did forget, this week probably reminded them of the Broncos inability to keep those games competitive.
To this point, the Colts have shown themselves to be the best team in the AFC. At home, they are rightly the favorite against a Broncos team that keeps showing people wrong.
I would not be shocked, however, if the Broncos at least kept the game competitive and even won. Here are a few reasons why.
1. IT’S A NEW DAY. And I don’t believe it’s Groundhog Day, when the Broncos will wake up only to find themselves blown out again under the Colts’ roof. The Broncos coaching staff and roster have gone through major upheaval since the team last played back there.
While those of us who follow the Broncos can look at past games between these teams and use them as some kind of reference point for the upcoming match-up, I’m not sure those previous games will actually matter when the two teams play on Sunday. Clearly, years of futility at Arrowhead didn’t matter much when the Broncos routed the Chiefs there.
The flip side to the idea of it being a new day is that a new day doesn’t guarantee a different result. Nothing guarantees a Broncos’ win over the Colts. If the Broncos play well, they’ll have a chance to win.
2. THE SECONDARY. Former Broncos’ head coach Mike Shanahan once drafted three cornerbacks in one draft because of the Broncos’ struggles facing the Colts in Indy. That didn’t help. Now, though, the Broncos have a talented and experienced secondary heading into the showdown with the Colts.
Peyton Manning has shown he can pick any defense apart. At the same time, I like the Broncos chances of keeping things interesting in part because of their defensive backfield. These veterans – Champ Bailey, Andre Goodman, Brian Dawkins and Renaldo Hill – have seen about all there is to see in the NFL. They’ll know how to hide what they’re trying to do against Manning.
“Disguise is everything,” Broncos’ defensive backs coach Ed Donatell said this week.
In addition, the Broncos’ defensive backs won’t panic if Manning makes some big plays. And he likely will make his share of them.
3. THE RUNNING GAME. Keeping the ball and thus, keeping Manning on his sideline doesn’t always equate to beating the Colts. Just ask the Dolphins, who had 45:07 of possession time but lost to the Colts, 27-23 in week two. That’s right, the Colts scored 27 points in 14:53. Wow.
But I like the way the Broncos are rushing the ball. They had 138 yards on the ground in the win over the Giants and backed that up with a staggering 245 against the Chiefs.
Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter are in a good rhythm. Peyton Hillis showed good things against Kansas City. The Colts allow 111.7 yards per game on the ground, 18th in the NFL. I think the Broncos can have some success running the football.
A successful rushing attack will not only enable the Broncos to keep Manning on the sideline, but one would think it would also make play-action more effective and open things up for quarterback Kyle Orton in the passing game. Time of possession, while important, isn’t all that is needed to beat the Colts. If the Broncos run the ball, then they’ll have a much better chance of making bigger plays down the field.
A lot will have to go right for the Broncos to beat the Colts. And I’ll admit it, if I were a betting man, I would have to take the Colts to win the game.
But I’m glad I’m not a betting man. This one could be really interesting.
How do you see Sunday’s game unfolding and what are the keys for the Broncos?
Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.