In a rematch from last year, Peyton Manning will once again face his former team of 15 years, as the Indianapolis Colts travel to Sports Authority Field at Mile High to face the Denver Broncos for the first Sunday night game of the NFL season (8:30pm EST on NBC).
The last time they met Denver was riding the Peyton Manning high and looked unbeatable. They entered the game, the first that saw Manning return to Lucas Oil Stadium, after winning the first six of the year. During that time, the Broncos were setting scoring records and tearing up defenses. There was no reason to expect the game against the Colts would be any different. As it turned out though, the Broncos had a bit of an off night.
Manning was far from perfect, completing just over 50% of his passes, but he still managed to put up monster numbers in the form of 386 yards and three touchdowns. He only had one interception. The only problem was that the guy the Colts brought in to replace Manning, Andrew Luck (pictured), was just a little bit better. Luck tossed for just 228 yards but had three passing and one rushing TD with no interceptions. He was sacked just twice.
Denver struck first with a Manning touchdown to Eric Decker, who finished the game with 150 yards on eight receptions. Luck and the Colts quickly battled back. With just over five minutes left in the third quarter, Indianapolis had a 33-14 lead.
Manning drove the Broncos back down the field twice more and with six minutes left in the fourth, had Denver within striking distance. Ultimately, the efforts fell short as the Colts kept their foot on the pedal and managed to do what no other team had previously done. The final score was 39-33 in favor of the home team.
Needless to say, Manning’s homecoming was unceremonious but in just a few short days, he’ll have a chance to make up for what happened last year. Manning will also be looking to get the Broncos off to a good start, especially considering how 2013 ended for Denver.
Peyton Manning, as Good as Ever
If last year showed us anything it was that Peyton Manning hasn’t lost a step. He is still one of, if not the best, QB in the NFL and with the weapons he has on the Broncos, there is no limit to how far he can go. However last year, in a few key games, also showed us that Manning is beatable.
In two of the Broncos regular season losses, Manning had just 150 yards with two touchdowns and one interception against the New England Patriots and 289 with two touchdowns and one interception against the San Diego Chargers. These were two of his three worst outputs of the season.
The Colts also defeated the Broncos last year but they didn’t really defeat Manning like the Patriots and Chargers did. He threw for almost 400 yards and recorded his fifth best passing performance of the year in the loss. Considering 386 yards and three touchdowns was only good enough for a middle of the line performance, it shows just how dominant Manning was.
Nothing much has changed for the Colts personnel wise so it is reasonable to believe that Manning will once again be able to torch the Indianapolis secondary. The small caveat is that Manning will be without his favorite target, Wes Welker, due to a suspension. That said, Denver has a host of other receivers who are ready to step right in and one particularly in Emmanuel Sanders who can replicate Welker’s numbers out of the slot.
Welker’s absence isn’t the only one the Broncos have to contend with. WR Eric Decker has since moved on to the New York Jets and RB Knowshon Moreno is with the Miami Dolphins. Both of those guys were huge for the Broncos toward the end of last season.
Manning will have a healthy Montee Ball and Julius and Demaryius Thomas to rely on in addition to Sanders and rookie Cody Latimer. This should be enough for one to have faith in a Denver victory but if it isn’t, consider this. The Colts are without their leading sack master in Robert Mathis who is also serving a suspension. Plus, Manning is averaging 362.3 yards with 13 touchdowns and just one interception in his last four home openers. It is hard to argue with that kind of success.
By the Numbers
- The Colts are 0-6 ATS in their last six season openers. They are also a paltry 4-19 SU in their last 23 contests as road underdogs which they will be on Sunday. However, Indianapolis is 6-0 both SU and ATS in their last six against the Broncos.
- Denver is 5-1 ATS in their last six home openers and are 2-0 SU in home openers under Manning. The Broncos are 16-2 SU in their last 18 as home favorites as well.
Indianapolis Colts vs Denver Broncos Betting Picks
Expect this to be one of the best games of the season given the implications. For starters, Manning and the Broncos will desperately look to rid their minds of the devastating and embarrassing Super Bowl loss last year. Defeating the Colts in the process, giving Manning his first victory ever against his old team, will just be the proverbial icing on the cake.
The Colts are fielding a strong team once again behind Luck and a healthy Reggie Wayne. Overall though, it will come down to the defense with the question being, is there anything Indianapolis can do to slow down or stop Manning?
I’m going to go on record and say no. I don’t think any team is going to stop Manning this year. His receiving core is way too strong and his ability to spread the ball only bolsters that strength. The defense is improved and while this game will be a high-scoring shootout, expect the end result to favor the home team.
- Bet on the Broncos on the points spread -7.5pts at best betting odds of -110 with BetOnline. Grab it now because the spread could worsen as it is -8pts with Bovada and -9pts with 5Dimes for the same odds.
- Take the over 55 total points too. The best odds are -110 with 5Dimes Sportsbook or BetOnline. These teams have played to the over in seven of their past eight meetings.