Colts vs. Broncos: What Are Experts Saying About Indianapolis?

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Colts vs. Broncos: What Are Experts Saying About Indianapolis?
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

It's safe to say that the Indianapolis Colts are underdogs against the Denver Broncos

That's fair, I mean, they are the defending AFC Champions, and the Colts ended last season with a blowout loss at New England. But the Colts have a chance, because they always have a chance. 

The Colts, remember, have Andrew Luck, and since drafting Luck in 2012, the team has routinely defied expectations, both in the big picture and in individual games. 

Today, we look at what the experts think about the Colts' chances. We know that they are not the favorites but just how much of a beating are the Colts taking in the national media? 

A pretty lopsided one, it turns out. 

Colts-Broncos Expert Picks
Expert B/R ESPN CBS Sports Fox Sports
Pick Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos
Expert Sporting News PFT USA Today Microsoft Madden (Fansided)
Pick Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos Colts

See below for source’s Elliot Harrison: Broncos (36-29)

The argument Harrison puts forth is one that most find fairly compelling: Peyton Manning wants to come back sharp after losing the way he did in the 2013 Super Bowl. The Colts may be the victim of that desire.

Harrison does make a good point in the Colts’ favor, however. The Broncos’ new additions on defense (guys like Aqib Talib, T.J. Ward and DeMarcus Ware) could take some time to adjust early in the season as they grow acclimated to their teammates, which would play into the Colts’ hands.

Bleacher Report Consensus: Manning the best QB performance of Week 1

The Bleacher Report lead NFL writers believe that Manning will have the strongest performance in Week 1, leading to an evisceration of the Colts’ defense. But, one writer did vote for Andrew Luck in the same poll, so be on the lookout for a high-scoring shootout.

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco: Broncos (35-17)

Pointing to the Colts’ poor offensive line, Pete Prisco projects some struggles for young Andrew Luck against a deep Denver defensive front.

And, of course, the Broncos putting up a lot of points.

ESPN NFL Experts: Broncos (Unanimous, out of 14)

The ESPN NFL expert panel was unanimous in its pick of the Broncos, one of six unanimous votes for this week. The other five? Steelers over Browns, Jets over Raiders, Bears over Bills, Patriots over Dolphins and Lions over Giants.

So, to recap, the teams that ESPN has unanimously picked to lose are the Browns, Bills, Raiders, Dolphins, Giants and Colts. 

Fox Sports, WhatIfSports simulation: Broncos (63.2% chance)

The Fox Sports’ prediction model wasn’t quite as down on the Colts as Microsoft’s (see below), but it still had Denver winning by a healthy margin. The model did simulate nearly a five-point margin of victory, one of the higher margins for the week.

When I ran the simulation, I got a 30-8 drubbing by the Broncos, with Andrew Luck throwing for just 160 yards and a touchdown on 25 attempts. On the bright side, Trent Richardson ran for 46 yards on 11 carries, which would be a 1,000 percent increase in his yards per carry (approximately). Ah, you probably can throw that simulation out.

Sporting News’ David Steele: Broncos (31-21)


Losing Robert Mathis means much more to the Colts than losing Wes Welker does for the Broncos, or so Steele says. It’s a valid point, as Manning has been making receivers look good in Welker’s role for 15 years, and the Colts had little-to-no pass rush without Mathis last year.

Mathis was the one to get pressure on Manning and force discomfort that slowed the Broncos early in last year's upset. Can the Colts make Manning uncomfortable without him?

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio and Michael David Smith: Broncos (30-20, 34-21)

The PFT duo continues along a theme we’ve seen develop: Denver scoring points. Everybody and their mothers are picking Manning to have a big game; I haven’t seen a prediction yet that has the Broncos scoring less than 30 points.

Peyton Manning having a big game? Are we sure we’re not going out on a limb here?

USA Today staff picks: Broncos (Unanimous, out of seven)

This time, the Colts are one of nine unanimous losers picked by the USA Today staff.

Even Nate Davis, who picked the Colts to go to the Super Bowl, has Indianapolis losing in the season-opener.

Microsoft Cortana: Broncos (77.8% chance)

The Micosoft-based Cortana, the Windows phone answer to Siri, has powered an NFL model prediction based on 2013 results, stats, margin of victory, location, weather and public sentiment. The model correctly picked 15 of 16 correct World Cup knockout stage games, and it could be fairly accurate.

Of course, the model is powered by Bing, so in the end, it likely will be a decent product that occasionally has outlandish results and is made a mockery of.

Cortana has the Colts with the lowest chance of victory in Week 1, with just a 22.2 percent chance.

Fansided’s Madden Simulation: Colts (27-21)

Finally, a Colts pick! This simulation has Luck with 212 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, while Manning finishes with 312 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Richardson had -1 yard on 12 carries in this scenario, but he did have one touchdown. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. (HINT: It actually means nothing, this is all made up.)

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