5 Bold Predictions for Indianapolis Colts' Week 7 Matchup
It's the game Indianapolis Colts fans have been waiting for all year.
The 6-0 Broncos will be playing the 4-2 Colts, so obviously this would be a huge win for Indianapolis. Things were looking great for this team after taking down the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks, but a disappointing loss to the San Diego Chargers on Monday Night Football last week has hurt the hype surrounding the team.
Regardless of the outcome, this is bound to be one of those special games for the Colts with the man that changed the culture of Indianapolis coming back to take on his old team. With that being said, let's go ahead and look at some bold predictions for this Week 7 matchup.
1. Peyton Manning Will Receive a Warm Welcome in Indy (Until the Game Starts)
All of the talk about Jim Irsay's comments is getting blown out of proportion. Anyone that ever lived in Indianapolis while Peyton Manning played here understands how much he meant to this city.
You can bet that when the Colts play their tribute to Peyton that their will be a number of fans tearing up at the stadium and at home.
Heck, even I might need a tissue.
When Peyton is introduced, there will be a huge applause and a standing ovation. When the game starts, however, fans will quickly start to release the boos.
At the end of the day, it's still a big game for the Colts, and fans' true colors will show. They'll all boo at Peyton when he throws a touchdown, especially if he throws one to Wes Welker.
One the game is over, however, fans will go back to loving Peyton. Until they have to play the Broncos again, of course.
2. Andrew Luck Will Throw for Nearly 400 Yards
The balanced offense focused on running the ball was cute and all, but now it's time for the Colts to start airing it out and giving Andrew Luck a shot at making plays with his arm.
Through the first six games of the season, Luck has thrown the ball 186 times. In 2012, he had 250 attempts through the first six games.
I know that the coaching staff wants to have a balanced attack, but limiting the opportunities for your best player to make plays is a little crazy.
If there's a game where Luck has a chance to start airing it out, it's this one. The Broncos rank dead last in pass defense, allowing 337.7 passing yards per game. Just last week, they gave up 303 passing yards to Chad Henne of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Yeah, you heard that right. Chad Henne.
With how quickly the Broncos can score, the Colts will need to keep up with them, and that should mean more big plays for Luck in the passing game.
3. Colts Defense Will Give Up at Least 160 Yards Rushing
The Colts have added a lot of new faces on defense, but that hasn't helped them stop the run like they had originally hoped.
As it stands, the Colts rank 31st in the league in rushing defense, allowing 132 yards per game on the ground. They allowed 147 rushing yards this past week against the Chargers, with Ryan Mathews running for 102 yards on 22 carries.
It won't get much easier against the Broncos. The Colts will likely be spending most of this week preparing for Peyton, but they have some weapons on the ground that can make Indianapolis look bad.
Knowshon Moreno has been a big surprise for the Broncos after so many disappointing seasons. He's run for 373 yards and seven touchdowns while averaging 4.7 yards per carry. They also have potential weapons in Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball that could break off a couple of solid runs.
As much as everyone wants to see a shootout between Luck and Manning, Peyton knows what he's doing and will change the play based off of what he sees. That means we will see plenty of touches for these running backs, and they should put up some big numbers.
4. Peyton Manning Isn't Sacked Once
One of the big questions going from 2012 to 2013 was how the Colts would be able to rush the passer, especially with Dwight Freeney leaving. So far, that question has been answered, but they won't be able to get to Peyton this week.
The Colts are currently tied for 11th with 17 sacks this year. Robert Mathis is currently tied for first with 9.5 sacks this season.
However, things have gotten harder for this team recently. They recently lost Bjoern Werner for the next four to six weeks with a torn plantar fascia. Over the past couple of weeks, their pass rush has slowed down, grabbing just two sacks in each of the past two teams. Other than those sacks, there really hasn't been much pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
The Colts will find it even harder to get pressure on Peyton this week. Pro Football Focus (subscription required) has the Broncos as the best pass-blocking team with a 26.0 grade. The Cincinnati Bengals are in second at just 18.7.
Don't expect the Colts to get a lot of pressure on Peyton. He's been sacked just five times this season, and that numbers should stay the same after this week.
5. The Colts Keep It Closer Than Expected
The Colts may be expected to lose on Sunday Night Football, but they should surprise the nation with how good of a team they really are.
For some reason the Colts have had a habit of playing to the level of their opponents, excluding the game against the Jaguars. They looked fantastic against the 49ers and Seahawks, but then they looked plain awful against the Chargers.
With how big this game is, you can expect the Colts to be ready to play. The Broncos will put up plenty of points, but their suspect defense will keep them from pulling away.
I don't think this will be an insane shootout like the Broncos had against the Dallas Cowboys, but there will be a fair amount of touchdowns, and Luck will do whatever it takes to keep this game close.