Why The Indianapolis Colts Can and Will Beat The Denver Broncos
On Sunday afternoon the Indianapolis Colts take on their first (of four) AFC West opponents, the Denver Broncos.
Like Indy, the Broncos are coming off a big win at home (they just demolished the Seattle Seahawks 31-14).
So, this game could conceivably be a big time match-up.
And who wins?
Well, the Broncos are at home and their quarterback, Kyle Orton, is playing pretty well (against the Seahawks he was 25 of 35 for 307 yards and two touchdowns).
So the Broncos win, right?
Here are just a few reasons the Colts should hand the Broncos their second loss of the season.
Peyton Manning Is Playing Out Of His Mind
Last week against his brother Eli's New York Giants, Peyton Manning was just sensational. He went 20 of 26 for 255 yards and three touchdowns.
And in the loss to the Houston Texans the week before, Manning threw for 433 yards and three touchdowns.
Right now Peyton Manning is easily the top quarterback in the league.
The knock is: he's already been sacked three times this year (after only being sacked 10 times in 2009).
The problem for the Broncos is: right after signing their premiere pass rusher, LB Elvis Dumerville, to a long term contract (six years $43 million guaranteed), they lost him for the entire season (torn pectoral muscle).
If the Broncos don't figure out a way to get to Peyton Manning, they could be in for a long day.
Freeney and Mathis Are The Best Pass Rushing Duo In The NFL
Last week, Kyle Orton showed big contract extension he just signed (he'll make just over $12 million the next two years).
Plus, he has a habit of playing well against the Colts. Last year he threw for 277 yards and two touchdowns in Indy. And in 2008 (with the Chicago Bears), he beat the Colts in the first game ever played in Lucas Oil Stadium.
In order for Orton to play well against the Colts, he'll have to stay off the ground.
That's going to be a problem, because Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are (simply) the best pass rushing duo in the league.
So far, both guys have three sacks each.
And the Broncos Pro Bowl left tackle, Ryan Clady, isn't 100%. So, he'll probably need help against Dwight Freeney.
And if the Broncos try to double team Freeney, that'll open the door for Robert Mathis.
Indy's Finally Got a Run Game
The past few year, the Colts run game (and Joseph Addai) has taken a lot of criticism for not carrying it's share of the offense.
Well, Indy's running game woes appear to be over.
Last week, Addai rushed for 92 yards (4.6 yards per carry), and Donald Brown added another 69 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Plus, Addai added another 29 yards receiving.
Right now, both Colts backs are averaging over 4 yards per carry.
The problem for the Broncos is: right now their run defense is ranked 22nd in the league (121.5 yards per game).
So, in the first place the Broncos have to (try) stop Peyton Manning- and then they need to figure out an answer for Addai and Brown.
This Is a Pretty Good Secondary
All off season Colts fans were excited about the return of former Defensive Player of the Year Bob Sanders.
Well as usual, Sanders got injured and the Colts defense has to go on without him.
But, this is a pretty good secondary even without Sanders.
Last year the Colts made it to the Super Bowl, without playing a single down with all of their starting secondary.
That included starting a pair of rookie corners. This year Powers and Lacey are veterans so they'll play even better.
Plus, FS Antoine Bethea and CB Kelvin Hayden lead the team in tackles (Bethea has 19 and Hayden has 14).
And Sanders replacement, Melvin Bullitt has a pick this year.
As a unit they haven't allowed a receiver to get over 80 yards (they held Andre Johnson to 33).
Last year Colts fans got a scare when Brandon Marshall caught 21 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns.
Well, with Marshall in Miami, the Broncos have no one to go to if (when) Indy starts to light up the scoreboard.
The Colts Own The Broncos
The Broncos have won 14 of the last 15 home games in the month of September and own a 11-7 lifetime edge in this series.
But, these aren't the Colts of the 80's and John Elway isn't wearing a Broncos jersey anymore (at least not on the field).
In the Peyton Manning era, the Colts are 6-2 against the Broncos.
The last time the Broncos beat the Colts was in January of2005 when Tony Dungy pulled his starter to get ready for the playoffs.
A lot of Broncos fan sites are picking their team to beat the Colts in Denver on Sunday afternoon.
But they're obviously not paying attention to the way the Colts offense is playing- or history.