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Denver Broncos' Keys to Victory: Week 9 at Indianapolis Colts

Ken Pomponio Avatar
November 7, 2015

 

Keys-to-Victory-

Who: Denver Broncos (7-0) at Indianapolis Colts (3-5)

What: 2015 Week 9

When: 2:25 p.m. MST, Sunday, Nov. 8

Where: Lucas Oil Stadium

TV: CBS

Announcers: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms

Radio: KOA (850 AM), The Fox (103.5 FM)

Odds: Broncos -5; O/U 45

Notable: The Orange & Blue hold a 12-9 all-time series lead, but the Colts have won seven of the last eight, including – of course – the 24-13 road upset the AFC divisional playoffs last Jan. 11. … The Horseshoes also have notched five consecutive home wins in the series, beginning with lopsided wild-card-round victories in 2003 and 2004. … With a win and 284 passing yards Sunday afternoon, Peyton Manning can pass Brett Favre atop both NFL regular-season lists. … DeMarcus Ware needs one sack to tie John Abraham for 10th all-time with 133.5. …  Gary Kubiak joins Andy Reid (2013 Chiefs), Jim Caldwell (’09 Colts) and Ray Malavasi (’78 Rams) as the only head coaches since the 1970 merger to win their first seven games with their new team. … Since Andrew Luck joined the Colts in 2012, Indy is 19-2 against AFC South opponents during the regular season and a deeply disturbing 17-18 against the rest of the league, including 3-0 and 0-5 marks this season, respectively.

The Keys

  • Start fast: The Colts have trailed at the half in four of their five losses and have been shut out in three of them with a cumulative score of 77-27. The Broncos, meanwhile, are the only team in the league yet to allow a first-quarter point and have led or have been tied at the half in six of their games. That would seem to portend an early advantage Sunday for the Orange and Blue, who should come out with an edge to their game with the memories of last season’s lifeless playoff performance fueling the fire. Meanwhile, doubt is almost certain to set in if the struggling — but still desperate and dangerous — Colts find themselves in an early hole, and the pressure will be ratcheted up even higher on Chuck Pagano, Luck and Co. That’s right where the Broncos want ’em.
  • Keep the heat turned up: Speaking of pressure, Sunday’s matchup between Luck and the Denver D has all the makings of a classic mismatch. That much was detailed on this site earlier in the week. A 36.3 completion percentage, six interceptions and a 36.8 passer rating are nearly league-worst figures across the board for Luck – as are his 12 interceptions – and now he gets to face a Broncos’ defense which is leading the league in sacks (29) and quarterback pressures per game (23.9). So perhaps Indy might turn to its ground game under new offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, but the Broncos have been dominant there as well, allowing only 89.3 yards per game (fourth in the league) and 3.68 yards per carry (sixth).
  • Keep on keeping the miscues to a minimum: The Broncos have actually ranked ahead of the Colts in terms of offensive mistakes for most of the season, but that’s changed of late. As pointed out by the Broncos’ Patrick Smyth this week, Denver is tied with Washington for the fewest sacks allowed (five) in the league since Week 3 after surrendering seven in its first two games. The Broncos and Manning turned the ball over 11 times during their first six games, but only had one meaningless late-game Manning interception – along with no sacks and three QB hits allowed – last Sunday night against the Packers and the end result was their most one-sided win (29-10) of the season. Amazing how that works. The Colts’ D, meanwhile, ranks in the league’s bottom half with 10 takeaways (tied for 19th) and 29 sacks (tied for 27th) so one of the Broncos’ primary missions Sunday is to keep these aforementioned trends headed in their current directions.
  • Maintain the TE momentum: Having a pass-catching weapon at tight end is just about a prerequisite for success in NFL 2015. Just look at the numbers Rob Gronkowski, Tyler Eifert and Greg Olsen are cranking out for fellow undefeateds New England, Cincinnati and Carolina, respectively. And while the tight ends were essentially missing in action for the Orange and Blue in the early part of the season, things picked up noticeably against the Packers with Virgil Green and Owen Daniels combining for a season-high six catches for 105 yards, reeling in all six of their total targets. Now, the Broncos have added two-time Pro Bowler Vernon Davis to the mix, giving their tight end-friendly coach and QB that many more options to utilize.

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