The regular season is here for the Denver Broncos. While most people are celebrating one last day of the long weekend, the Broncos went to work on the opener versus the Indianapolis Colts.
Mile High Maniac will have coverage all week leading up to the game and I’ll get into a deeper preview later, but here are some initial thoughts on the highly anticipated opener.
At first glance, the game has all the makings of a classic. Two great quarterbacks going head to head and two playoff teams from last season trying to get an early edge in playoff seeding, but a deeper look reveals something different.
Let’s start with the Colts offense and more specifically their offensive line. It is extremely beat up and has struggled all through the preseason. The Colts do have the weapons to hurt any defense but if they can’t protect Andrew Luck, then those weapons aren’t as effective.
Combine those offensive line issues with the pass rush of the Broncos, and Luck could spend a lot of time running around on Sunday night. These are the types of games that the Broncos had in mind when they signed DeMarcus Ware to team with Von Miller. Throw in players like Derek Wolfe, Malik Jackson, Sylvester Williams, Terrance Knighton and Quanterus Smith and the Broncos have a huge advantage in the trenches.
If the Broncos can get a 10-14 point lead and the Colts have to throw, then the pass rushers are going to pin their ears back. It will be crucial for the Colts to keep the game close allowing them to use their running game to neutralize the Broncos pass rush.
The second problem for the Colts is the absence of defensive end, Robert Mathis who is the Colts best pass rusher by far. Mathis was suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Mathis was a big reason why the Colts were able to beat the Broncos last October. His pressure on Manning led to turnovers and a safety.
Without Mathis, the Colts have no one else who is a legitimate threat as a pass rusher. The Broncos will also have left tackle Ryan Clady backwho missed most of last season. His presence and the absence of Mathis means that Manning is probably going to have all day to throw, and we all know what happens when he gets time.
The Colts inability to get pressure on Manning and to protect Luck will be the difference in the football game. Throw in the fact that it’s a home game and Manning remembers that game last season, and all the signs point to a relatively easy win for the Broncos.
As mentioned earlier we’ll get deeper into matchups as the week goes on, but an early look favors the Broncos.