The Broncos will attempt to make it three in a row and give the Colts their first loss of the season.
Denver Broncos (8-4) @ indianapolis Colts (12-0)
Denver could be in some trouble this weekend, not due to the fact that they are playing the undefeated Colts necessarily, but the Broncos have officially lost offensive tackle Ryan Harris for the season. Harris initially dislocated his toe during the Nov. 1 loss against Baltimore, and Denver went on to lose the following three games as well after that injury. Harris made his return against the Chiefs last week, but only lasted ten snaps and was put on injured reserve this Wednesday. Tyler Polumbus will replace Harris once again and matches up against defensive end Robert Mathis, who has 9.5 sacks this season. This is an obvious advantage for the Colts in this game.
The Broncos will need to put some points up on the board once again this weekend to hang with this explosive Indianapolis offensive unit. Peyton Manning will have his hands full while dealing with Brian Dawkins and Champ Baily, forcing him to find alternative solutions in the passing game. Luckily for the Colts, they have found some pleasant surprises in Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon. Denver must find ways to shut down these other receiving options while Champ takes on Reggie Wayne and Dawkins spots Dallas Clark. The Broncos can also not forget about Joseph Addai, who Manning utilizes often in the passing game as well.
The Colts have been almost unstoppable on third down, converting over fifty percent of the time. Denver has played solid on the defensive side of the ball this season, especially holding their opponents on third down. Keeping Manning off of the field will be the Broncos best chance at winning this game. The Colts love to pass and the Broncos defend the pass well, so whoever comes out on top in that battle should come away victorious.
To beat a team like the Colts, it seems that you need everything to fall your way. One penalty, one turnover, one missed field goal could be the one mistake that loses you the ball game. To beat a perfect team, you have to play almost a perfect game. The Broncos must protect Kyle Orton and continue to establish a solid running game early on. Denver needs to continue to play well in the second half to keep the Colts from running away with this one. But most importantly, the Broncos need to limit penalties and turnovers, because the Colts most likely will do the same.
The Colts are shooting for perfection, something the Broncos toyed with before a midseason slump knocked them off the hill. Denver has really turned it around lately, playing well on both sides of the ball, and must continue that recent trend to hang with the Colts. Both defensive units allow exactly 16.8 points per game, so expect a defensive battle right out of the gate. Denver can not afford to fall behind early, because points will obviously be hard to come by. The Colts can be run on, so Knowshon Moreno, the NFL's leading rookie rusher, must have another good game on the ground so Denver can keep the ball in their hands and move the chains.
This is a great test for the Broncos, as well as a possible playoff matchup in the near future. A win against the Colts this week would create a legitimate argument that Denver is a possible Super Bowl contender. If Denver can take out Indianapolis, that means the Broncos would have beat all of the current AFC division leaders this season. If the Broncos lose, it would entrap them within a vicious wild card race with some good teams still vying for a spot. Currently, Denver is only a game behind San Diego, so a division title is still a possibility, but a win against the Colts this weekend would build their case for the Super Bowl being a possibility as well.
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Written by Josh Souder