Pick: Broncos -7.5

This primetime matchup features the second time that Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning will face his former team. Many things have changed since the first meeting a year ago. Most notably the Colts will be without their owner Jim Irsay who is suspended for the seasons first 6 games. Irsay’s impact will not be felt on the field but the same cannot be said for the Broncos who have lost star wide receiver Wes Welker to a 4 game suspension to start the season. This leaves one team without their owner and more importantly it leaves the other without its top pass catcher.

The Broncos will have a healthy Peyton Manning playing in his first game since an awful blowout loss to the Seahawks in the Superbowl. He is coming of an amazing season that included an NFL record 55 touchdown passes and 5,477 yards. The team has also lost wide receiver Eric Decker to the Jets in free agency. They were able to replace Decker with former Steeler Emmanuel Sanders. They added former pro bowl defensive end Demarcus Ware who will be a welcome pass rusher to their defense. They also added two premier cornerbacks in Aqib Talib and T. J Ward and they will allow the team to play more man coverage and hopefully allow for a stronger overall defense with more flexibility. Running back Montee Ball will be the starter after last seasons starter Knowshon Moreno signed with the Dolphins in the offseason.

The Colts were victorious in the first matchup vs. Manning and a lot of that has to do with their new franchise quarterback, Andrew Luck. Luck had a fantastic season and did it without star wide receiver Reggie Wayne who was lost early in the season to a leg injury. In the offseason the team also signed former Giant Hakeem Nicks who had a disappointing season last year but had otherwise been prolific in his career. He will join a healthy Wayne and young speedster to form what could become the best receiving core in the league. The biggest question mark where Trent Richardson has a lot to prove. The Colts traded a first round pick to acquire him last season and he was a huge disappointment who barely averaged over 2 yards a carry. The hope is that after a full training camp and better knowledge of the system, he will be more comfortable and therefore significantly more productive. Veteran Ahmad Bradshaw will also get carries and has a fantastic track record when healthy.

This game is going to have a lot of emotion. Manning and his team likely still has the taste of the Superbowl loss in their mouths and they will look for redemption on Sunday night. The Colts have made additions in the offseason an appear to be trying to win now as opposed to building for the future. Look for a high scoring game that shows the talents of these 2 elite quarterbacks.

Pick: Colts +7.5

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