The Denver Broncos played incredible football a season ago. Aside from the Super Bowl, one other game stands out as a glaring exception to that statement. In week 7 Peyton Manning and the Broncos traveled to Indianapolis for the star QB’s emotional homecoming. After a strong start to the season and an undefeated 6-0 record, the Broncos struggled mightily against the Colts, particularly the offensive line. The pass rush of the Colts was relentless, causing constant pressure and sacking the MVP four times. Robert Mathis absolutely terrorized Peyton, hurrying him frequently, causing two sacks, and forcing a fumble that ended in a safety. Fortunately for Denver, they won’t see Mathis on the field this year as he is serving a four game suspension to start the season. If that isn’t enough of an advantage for Denver, they have a number of others to choose from.
Revenge is certainly on the minds of the Broncos going into the season opener. Manning’s homecoming was ruined in tremendous fashion last October. The offensive line was thoroughly embarrassed, and the Denver defense allowed Peyton’s replacement, Andrew Luck, to score four times as he led his Colts to victory. This time around, Ryan Clady is back with an improved offensive line, and they will certainly be looking for redemption this Sunday night in front of the home fans.
Denver also bolstered their defense this offseason in an effort to create an entirely different attitude on that side of the ball. Even in the absence of a regular season game, it’s safe to say that Elway was successful in these efforts. Von Miller is seemingly back to himself after rave reviews during the offseason. Rahim Moore and Chris Harris Jr. are back on the field and looking to make an impact coming off serious leg injuries. It may also be important to note the additions of veterans Demarcus Ware, TJ Ward, and Aquib Talib. On paper, the defense looks fantastic. It’s hard to believe it, but this Denver Broncos team has the potential to be far more dangerous in 2014 than it was a year ago.
This time around Peyton wants a win more than anything, and it’s hard to imagine the Broncos falling at home in this rematch. The offense will be clicking on all cylinders if Wes Welker isn’t in the lineup. The depth in the receiving game is more than enough to compensate. Julius and Demaryius Thomas are both elite at their position and provide an almost unfair advantage for one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game. Emmanuel Sanders showed off his incredible speed in the third game of the preseason and is looking to reaffirm the excitement behind his signing this summer. The offense will likely pick up right where it left off last year.
What Denver fans really want to see the revamped defense in action. The improved defensive line figures to be as good, if not better than it was in 2012 with Dumervil on the roster. With pass rushers like Demarcus Ware, Von Miller, Quanterus Smith, and Malik Jackson, third-and-long opportunities are surely giving Andrew Luck nightmares this week. TJ Ward is likely having the same effect on Indianapolis WRs. “Boss” Ward is exactly the kind of hard-hitting defensive back that gives a defense an edge, and he’ll have his fair share of destructive hits on WRs and RBs alike this year. The Broncos want to establish toughness, and Ward will be the leader of that enterprise. The back-end of the defense also includes some terrific athletes in man coverage. If they can play up to their potential, Jack Del Rio should have plenty of opportunities to draw up some creative blitzes making life miserable for Chuck Pagano and the rest of the Colts all night long.