The Indianapolis Colts travel to Denver for this AFC divisional round matchup on Sunday afternoon. The Broncos had an undefeated 8-0 record at home and their overall record was 12-4. Their record was good enough for a first round bye and home field advantage. The Colts had to face the Bengals in the wild card round in order to advance and were dominant in their 26-10 home win. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck had a strong game going 31/44 for 376 yards and 1 spectacular touchdown pass. Holding onto a 3 point lead early in the 3rd quarter, Luck dropped back and was hit hard by Bengals defender Carlos Dunlap as he released the ball and threw a perfect strike to rookie receiver Donte Moncrief for a touchdown and a 10 point lead that they would never relinquish. The running game has been a revolving door all season long and it appears they may have found a rotation that works as Dan Herron and Zurlon Tipton combined for 23 carries, 96 yards, and a touchdown. Wide Receiver T.Y Hilton continued his spectacular season with 6 catches for 103 yards and Herron also contributed big time in the passing game with 10 catches for 85 years. The defense turned it up a notch in the second half by shutting the Bengals out and sending the Colts to the divisional round.
Peyton manning had a Hall of Fame career for the Colts before moving on to the Broncos after suffering a neck injury that caused him to miss his final season. The team’s poor play during the season without Manning resulted in them getting the first pick in the draft, which they used to obtain Luck. This will be Manning’s third game against his old team but the first with so much on the line. Manning is coming off injuries at the end of the season, he used the bye week to rest and by all accounts he is ready to go for this matchup. He will need to improve on his last 4 performances of the season in which he threw only 3 touchdowns against 6 interceptions and threw for under 250 yards a game. The team was able to develop a power running game behind starting running back C.J Anderson who came on strong late in the season and finished with 8 touchdowns. The balance of run and pass will benefit the offense as a whole.
The Colts will need to avoid turnovers at all costs as the Broncos defense did a good job making up for Manning’s poor play by creating 13 turnovers in the teams last 6 games of which they won 5 of them. Broncos tight End Julius Thomas was dominant against The Colts in the first matchup but then struggled down the stretch wit injuries and unproductive play, he may be a big key for the offenses success. The Broncos are also 12-0 on the season when rushing for over 88 yards so look for a focus on the ground game from the beginning.
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