One Manning down, one to go. There have been too many mentions of Colt this week. Colt McCoy and the Indianapolis Colts (12-0). I’m tired of it. That’s why the Broncos need to end the Colts’ regular season winning streak. Peyton will probably lose in the first or second round of the playoffs anyway, so the Broncos just need to put a stop to the hype now. The Broncos will need to put together the perfect game in order to beat this team. However, it can be done. Of the Colts’ 12 wins this season, 6 games were decided by 4 points or less. Those close games came against teams with a solid rush defense. As we all know, the Broncos have come up big on defense this year. I think the veteran leadership we have in the secondary can match Manning’s offensive leadership. My Prediction: Broncos 30 Colts 27
Broncos - There’s no way the Broncos offense can out produce the Colts’ offense. However, they need to at least put 24-27 points on the board to be able contend with them. Look for the Broncos to favor the run just to keep the ball out of Manning’s hands. However, I see them continuing to throw a lot of balls to the tightends and the backs to pick up 6-7 yards per play and keep the clock moving. Josh McDaniels is going to emphasize the short game at first and then take a few shots down field later on. Protection from the offensive line is key for this Broncos unit. Ryan Harris is done for the season which isn’t comforting knowing that the Colts’ have two of the quickest defensive ends in the league. Kyle Orton cannot be thrown off his game just because the speed in which the Colts play is faster than most teams in the league. Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter will need to relieve the pressure put on Orton by getting the run game off to a great start early on.
Colts- The Colts are so lopsided on offense being #1 in passing and #32 in rushing. One would think that would make playing defense much easier. However, when Manning is behind center he sees the blitz coming and then changes the entire play without any help from the sidelines. That’s why it’s so hard to prepare defensively when going up against him. You can show him different things right before the snap and he will call you out. Manning has three incredible targets in Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, and Pierre Garcon. Garcon is actually the guy that could torch the Broncos since a lot of focus will be placed on Wayne and Clark. Manning works his way down field, and then Joseph Addai is very capable of running it in for the score. The Colts capitalize on long drives by converting in the redzone. Even if coming from behind, the game is never out of reach because of this offense. Don’t believe me? Ask the Patriots.
Broncos - This is the crew that wins the game for the Broncos. They only have a shot if they can force turnovers. Manning has thrown 7 INTs in his last 5 games, proving he’s prone to mistakes just like the rest of the world. Now, Kid McD was a QB coach. If he and Mike Nolan were to figure out how to rustle Manning’s feathers a little bit, I wouldn’t be at all shocked. One important aspect is bringing all different kinds of looks on defense. The Colts’ offensive line has been great this year. Manning has been sacked just 10 times and hasn’t lost a fumble. It’s going to be difficult for Elvis Dumervil, but I think he can wear down some linemen and put more pressure on Manning in the 2nd half of the game. Out of all things, I would allow Dallas Clark a little more room to work in the middle and really defend the sides of the field. The Texans did something similar and they lost by just 3 points and held the Colts to 20 points.
Colts- They’re ranked 18th in rush defense and 19th in pass defense, but don’t let that fool you. They’re fast and they’re ranked 2nd in the league for points allowed. Big plays won’t come easy for the Broncos with Antoine Bethea (4 INTs), Clint Session, and Jacob Lacey covering down field. Both Session and Lacey have 2 INTs each and 1 INT returned for a TD each. The success in the secondary comes from the pressure up front. Dwight Freeney has 10.5 sacks on the year and Robert Mathis has 9.5. The defensive line gets off the line of scrimmage fast and they show different types of blitz packages. Orton cannot let the speed of the game throw him off his game. He kind of becomes a headcase once he throws a pick or gets sacked. Who can blame him after all the hits he took in Chicago. Bottom line is this defense is underrated, and they can easily create turnovers.
Broncos - Special teams is very important on Sunday. Punter Mitch Berger and kicker Matt Prater need to boot the ball as far as possible to make Manning and his offense work the entire field. Defensive coverage can’t let big plays break. That’s all we need – people other than Manning moving the ball down field.
Colts- Chad Simpson (long: 39) and T.J. Rushing (long: 22) handle kick and punt returns. Neither has returned one for a TD this season. Matt Stover replaced Adam Vinatieri in week 5 when he went down with a knee injury. He’s 9 for 11 on the year. Punter Pat McAfee, who probably has the easiest job in the league, has only punted the ball 44 times with 16 landing inside the 20 and 6 landing inside the 10.
Broncos - Josh McDaniels loves these kind of games – The games that the media plays up for whatever reason. He’s coached against Manning plenty of times, and he’s treating this just like any other game. However, I think if the Broncos win, we’ll see some more fist pumping on the sidelines.
Colts- Jim Caldwell is having the ultimate coaching experience as rookie head coach. His team is 12-0 and he made the transition from a Tony Dungy led team very easy for this already successful team. It helped that he was an associate head coach with the team last season, but still, taking full control over an NFL team guarantees nothing.
Topics: Adam Vinatieri, Antoine Bethea, Chad Simpson, Clint Session, Correll Buckhalter, Dallas Clark, Denver Broncos, Dwight Freeney, Elvis Dumervil, Indianapolis Colts, Jacob Lacey, Jim Caldwell, Joseph Addai, Josh Mcdaniels, Knowshon Moreno, Kyle Orton, Matt Prater, Matt Stover, Mitch Berger, Pat Mcafee, Peyton Manning, Pierre Garcon, Reggie Wayne, Robert Mathis, Ryan Harris, T.j. Rushing, Tony Dungy