Did you hear that the Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos are in Indianapolis to face the Colts in Sunday Night Football? You did? Good.
The Broncos (6-0) are putting points on the board like it's going out of style with an average of 44.2 points per game. They'll be tested against a good Indy (4-2) defense that ranks fourth in the league, allowing 16.3 points per game.
Here's the breakdown in our betting tale of the tape:
What more is there to say about the Broncos offense? Manning leads the league with 2,179 yards and 22 touchdown tosses and boasts an arsenal of weapons all over the field in Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Julius Thomas. And those are just the receiving targets. RB Knowshon Moreno had three TD scampers last week and has 373 rushing yards on 4.7 ypc. The offensive unit is exceptionally talented.
Colts QB Andrew Luck was the reason Manning exited Indianapolis and to be fair, he's done a pretty good job with the incredibly large shoes he's had to fill. The Colts average 20 points less than the Broncos on a per game basis, but they bring a balanced passing and ground game to the table each week. The acquisition of RB Trent Richardson from the Cleveland Browns was a celebrated roster move, but the ex-Crimson Tide back is only averaging 3.2 ypc in his four games with the Colts. But the running game has depth as Richardson, Ahmad Bradshaw, Donald Brown and Luck have all ran for 154 yards or more.
The defensive side of the ball is another story for Denver. The Broncos have the league's worst passing defense as the unit has allowed 337.7 yards per game. LB Von Miller returns to the lineup from his six-game suspensions and will certainly help matters, but this Broncos defense can be exposed through the air. They are incredibly effective at stopping the run and Indy's backs will not have an easy task of breaking them down. Denver allows just 69.8 rushing yards per game.
The Colts have a fairly strong defense that boasts the league's co-sack leader, Robert Mathis, who heads into the Sunday nighter with 9.5 sacks. They are very good at stopping the pass as they allow 205.7 passing yards per game, good enough for fifth best in the league. The problem with the Colts is stopping the run. They give up the second-most rushing yards per game at 132 but opposing rushers have only reached pay dirt four times this season and haven't allowed a rushing TD since Week 3.
The Broncos have a stellar return game ranking third with 16.8 yards per punt return and third on kickoff returns averaging 30 yards per return. They also excel on special teams defense, leading the league with two blocked punts on the season. Matt Prater has just nine field goals on the season, but when you're offense scores touchdowns at this rate, you don't get too many shots. He is 9-for-9 and is 8-for-8 from 40 yards or greater.
Adam Vinatieri ranks 18th with an 85.7 conversion rate, but both of his misses are from 50 yards and out. The veteran place kicker is 12-of-14 on his attempts and 14-for-14 when tacking on the extra point. The Colts special teams defense allows 21.9 yards per kickoff return and 10.8 yards per punt return. Their return game is rather pedestrian as Colt returners average just 7 yards on punt returns and 253. yards per kickoff return.
"He's had a great week in practice. Obviously he has a lot of energy. He has fresh legs, and he's very excited about playing. I think his teammates are excited about watching." - Broncos head coach John Fox on Broncos LB Von Miller
“You’re looking at an offense, you look at the stat sheet and they’re ranked one at just about every category. It’s a challenge. We’re going to put our time in regardless. We just know that the challenge is a great one cause they’ve got a great one coming in here. First-ballot Hall of Famer (Manning) under center and all that stuff. Great wideouts, runners, offensive line. Across the board, it’s going to be a huge challenge.” - Colts defensive coordinator Greg Manusky on preparing for the Broncos potent offense.