Tale Of The Tape: Indianapolis Colts At Denver Broncos
- QuarterbackAndrew Luck has had two solid seasons to start his career, and he should be coming into his own in his third year. Luck has excellent arm strength, a quick release, excellent field generalship and he is a plus athlete who can pick up key yards on the ground. While he may be in over his head against the Broncos on the road, Luck will not back down from any assignment.Peyton Manning is playing for one more chance to go back to the Super Bowl and pick up his second championship. While he has done everything a quarterback can do to accomplish his individual goals, Manning plays for the love of the game and the opportunity to win games. Manning’s ability to read defenses and throw the ball accurately give him an edge in nearly every game.
- OffenseWhen Manning looks across the sidelines at his old team, he still sees wide receiver Reggie Wayne and he remains one of the most dependable receivers in the game. T.Y. Hilton has the ability to stretch the defense and can catch the long ball. The running game is a bit of a question mark, because Trent Richardson averaged less than 3.0 yards per carry last year.The Broncos set records with their offensive productivity last season and it seems quite unlikely that they will be able to come close to that kind of productivity again. However, they have perhaps the best offensive line in the NFL as well as the skill-position players to put on another memorable show. Montee Ball takes over at running back and Demaryius Thomas leads the way the WR position.
- DefenseThe Colts defense struggle to contain opponents last year and ranked 30th in yards allowed. If they are going to improve in this area, they are going to have to get a lot tougher. To that end, they signed former Raven Arthur Jones to help their run defense. He had 99 tackles and 8.5 sacks over the last two years. Inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman had 126 tackles last year, and he plays with a nasty edge.The Broncos are not as accomplished on the defensive side of the ball as they are on offense, but playing shutdown defense is not required when you set records on offense. Still, the Broncos can do better than 19th in yards allowed, and the addition of outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware should make the defense far more dangerous. Aqib Talib is one of the top cover corners in the game.
- Special TeamsAdam Vinatieri has reached the ripe old age of 41, but he made 35-of-40 FG attempts last year and there are few kickers that compare with him when the game is on the line. Pat McAfee averaged 46.0 yards per punt last year and placed 27 of his kicks inside the 20.The Broncos are so explosive on offense that the loss of veteran placekicker Matt Prater for four weeks (suspension) is not likely to hurt them. However, if the Colts can keep this game close, unknown PK Brandon McManus may be in over his head. Britton Colquitt is a decent directional punter.
Peyton Manning and the Broncos have the clear edge in this matchup. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports