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Tale of the tape

Tale Of The Tape: Denver Broncos At Indianapolis Colts

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 24: Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos in action before playing the St. Louis Rams at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on August 24, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 18: Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts talks on the sidelines during their preseason game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on August 18, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
(credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Denver Broncos

Indianapolis Colts

The Broncos have been dominating opponents all year and much of it is because Peyton Manning has been so sharp. While Manning was not at his best in Week Six against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars, he still threw for 277 yards and two TDs in a 35-19 Denver victory. Look for Manning to have quite a bit of emotion as he plays in Indianapolis as a visitor for the first time. Quarterback Andrew Luck will likely have a very difficult time preparing for this emotional game. If he gets too amped up at the sight of his predecessor returning back to Indianapolis, he may lose some of his accuracy and poise. Luck has all the tools needed to be a dominant quarterback for years, but this game will be a difficult assignment.
The Broncos may try to establish the run early so Manning doesn’t feel as much pressure as usual. That means Knowshon Moreno may get the opportunity to carry the ball quite a bit in the early going. Eventually, Manning will throw the ball to Wes Welker, Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas. The Denver passing game has been razor sharp all season. Offense Trent Richardson is working his way into the lineup slowly, but he has the hard-running style and the speed to be a difference maker. Reggie Wayne is still the top receiver in the Indianapolis offense. He finds a way to get open and he will not drop the ball. T.Y. Hilton is an excellent deep threat, while tight end Coby Fleener has dependable hands.
The Broncos rank 28th in total defense and 32nd against the pass. While much of that is because the Broncos have been so prolific on offense that they have forced opponent to do little else but pass, they have some weaknesses in coverage. Linebacker Danny Trevathan is very athletic and leads the team with 41 tackles. He also has three interceptions. Safety Duke Ihenacho is a hard hitter with 38 stops. Defense The Colts are a solid team defensively. They do not give up yardage easily, and they rank 10th in overall defense and fifth against the pass. Still, the Indianapolis secondary will be in for its biggest test of the year against the Broncos and that means free safety Antoine Bethea and strong safety LaRon Landry must be exceptional.
If the Broncos didn’t have enough going for them, they also are outstanding on special teams. Trindon Holliday may be the quickest returner in the league and he already has a punt and a kickoff return for a score. Matt Prater is perfect on his nine field goal attempts. Special Teams The Colts are an average return team, but they think Hilton has the quickness to give them momentum with a long punt return. Adam Vinatieri remains one of the best clutch kickers in the game. Pat McAfee has a strong leg and is a good directional punter.

The winner is

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 24: Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos in action before playing the St. Louis Rams at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on August 24, 2013 in Denver, Colorado.
Denver Broncos
3 out of 4

Throw out the stats and the numbers in this game, particularly the first half. Manning will likely get a hero’s welcome before the game, but he will have to compete against his old team and that will be a challenge. Look for a more low-scoring game than would normally be expected.
-Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor

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