Streak: Lost 1
All-time vs. Denver: 8-11-0
Last time: Ind. 27, at Den. 13 (9/26/10)
The Line: Broncos by 7
The Denver Broncos have lost five straight to the Indianapolis Colts going back to the mid-2000's. That sort of streak against the often-winning Broncos is unheard of, but year after year, season after season, if the Broncos saw the Indianapolis Colts on their schedule, they could all but pencil in the 'L' for that week. Indy's domination of Denver was thorough and undeniable.
But this time around, there's one key difference. This time around, it's the Broncos who have Peyton Manning.
Let's take our first look at 4-2 Indianapolis Colts before Peyton Manning's homecoming.
No one really. The Colts were red-hot heading into Monday's game against the Chargers, but it was a thoroughly disappointing performance from top to bottom. I could fit WR Reggie Wayne into this slot, with his team-high five catches for a team-high 88 yards, but Colts receivers were plagued by crucial drops against the Chargers on Monday night, Wayne included. QB Andrew Luck finished with 202 yards, no touchdowns and an interception (with the game already lost) that doesn't look too great either. The Colts, like the Broncos, had their worst game of 2013 in Week 6, they just weren't fortunate enough to be playing the Jacksonville Jaguars at home the week they stunk it up.
In the end, someone has to go here, so I'll recognize kicker Adam Vinatieri, who scored all nine of Indianapolis' points, going 3-for-3 on field goal attempts and 2-for-2 over 50 yards.
Colts defensive line. Quarterback Philip Rivers was able to murder the Colts on Monday Night Football, mostly by attacking Keenan Allen time after time for the wide receiver's second consecutive 100-yard game. But the real catalyst to Rivers' success wasn't Allen's ability to get open - the Colts defensive line was simply dominated by the Chargers (often inconsistent) offensive line Monday night. Nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin and defensive end Cory Redding both had particularly tough days against the Chargers' running attack, with RB Ryan Mathews (Ryan Mathews!) rushing for over 100 yards against the Colts defense.
It's important to note that these performances by Colts players last week are atypical of their 2013 output overall. The Colts have looked remarkably better in wins over the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers this season, for example, so it would behoove the Broncos not to overlook one of the AFC's more talented teams this season.
Matchup to Watch
QB Peyton Manning vs. QB Andrew Luck. This is the reason to watch this game, the reason it's on Sunday Night Football, and the reason Jim Irsay is making headlines again (shut up already guy). There will be plenty of juicy on-field matchups: how Colts left tackle Anthony Costanzo handles the return of Von Miller, Champ Bailey vs. Reggie Wayne, and the Colts secondary vs. Denver's Four Horsemen. But if there was ever a game built to be a Quarterback Showdown, this is it, The Past vs. The Future, a football duel between two masters in The Present.