The Broncos defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars last week to remain undefeated. This weekend the 6-0 Broncos head to Peyton Manning's old stomping grounds to take on the 4-2 Indianapolis Colts. Lets take a look at five things to keep an eye on while you watch the game.
1. Will The Moment Be To Big For Peyton?:
This will be an emotional night for Peyton. First he will be playing against the team that drafted him, the team he played 14 seasons for, against the team that he won his only Super Bowl with, and in front of the same fans that rooted for him for 14 years, but this time he'll be wearing a Denver Broncos uniform. All of that will be on Peyton's mind before, and after the game. The question Is will It positively or negatively effect him during the game?
On top of all of this, Colts owner Jim Irsay took a shot at Manning during an interview with USA Today. Irsay said this...
"We've changed our model a little bit, because we wanted more than one of these," Irsay says, flicking up his right hand to show his Super Bowl XLI championship ring. "(Tom) Brady never had consistent numbers, but he has three of these," Irsay adds. "Pittsburgh had two, the Giants had two, Baltimore had two and we had one. That leaves you frustrated."You make the playoffs 11 times, and you're out in the first round seven out of 11 times. You love to have the Star Wars numbers from Peyton and Marvin (Harrison) and Reggie (Wayne). Mostly, you love this." Then Irsay flicks up his right hand again.
John Fox fired back, and then a media circus blew up surrounding these quotes. It appears that Manning, and Irsay might not be on the best of terms. One has to think Irsay's criticism might make the already very prepared and motivated Manning at least a little pissed off? If that's the case, I feel sorry(Not really) for the Colts defense.
So as I said earlier, one has to wonder If all of this drama surrounding Sunday Nights game will effect Manning. Manning has been saying all of the right stuff off the field, but we'll see his true emotions on the field Sunday Night In Indy.
2. The Return Of Von Miller, and Broncos D?:
The undefeated Denver Broncos have been dominating teams all season long, and have been without their top two defensive players for the majority of their games. Champ Bailey finally returned to action last week, and this week Von Miller returns from his 6 game suspension. So let me repeat this. In the last two weeks the Broncos added a future Hall Of Fame Cornerback, and one of the best pass rushers/defensive players In the league to their defense. Good luck to the rest of the NFL.
The Broncos will also be getting back starting defensive end Robert Ayers, and starting middle linebacker Wesley Woodyard. So the Broncos defense will be at full strength for the first time this season. The defense has had some issues the first six games, so It will be interesting to see how they play with Champ, Von, Woodyard, and Ayers back.
Welcome back Von!
3. Offensive Line Issues?
The Broncos are already without Left Tackle Ryan Clady for the season, and could be without starting Right Tackle Orlando Franklin for Sunday Nights game. Franklin Is "Day To Day" with an ankle injury, and has yet to practice this week. If he does not practice Friday he will be listed as Doubtful or at the very best Questionable.
If the Broncos are without Franklin it will be interesting to see how they shuffle up the starting offensive line. Right guard Louis Vasquez shifted over the Tackle, and veteran Chris Kuper replaced him at Guard. So one would think that might be the starting offensive line Sunday Night, but one guy who could change things is the recently signed Winston Justice. He played Right Tackle for the Colts last season, and actually graded out well according to Pro Football Focus, they gave him a +1.0 grade pass protection grade. According to PFF Justice only allowed 4 sacks, 6 hits and 28 hurries last season for the Colts. So If Justice knows the Broncos offense, he has a chance to start at Right Tackle for the Broncos.
4. Stopping Andrew Luck:
Andrew Luck might be the best Quarterback the Broncos face all season. Luck can make every pass, and can beat you with legs. Also If the game is close in the 4th quarter, Luck has shown that he can lead his team to victory.
On the year Luck has thrown for 1,346 yards, 7 touchdowns, 3 Interceptions, and has a 61.8 completion percentage. Luck has also rushed for 154 yards on the ground, ran for two touchdowns. So as you can see Luck can beat you a multiple of ways.
The Broncos defense has had some issues stopping the pass lately. Cowboys Quarterback Tony Romo shredded the Broncos defense for 500+ yards, and last week Justin Blackmon caught 14 passes. If the Broncos defense plays like that against Luck we could be in for another high scoring shootout.
The Broncos will need Von Miller to energize the Broncos pass rush, and make Andrew Lucks night a living hell. If Shaun Phillips, Robert Ayers, Derek Wolfe, and Malik Jackson also pressure Luck, it will quiet down some of the doubters of the Broncos defense.
5. Champ vs Wayne:
It will be fun to watch two future Hall Of Famers go at it Sunday Night. Reggie Wayne Is the Colts number one receivers, that means Champ Bailey will be on him for the majority of the game. Both of these players are in the twilight of their career, but it still will be a fun chess match. Here's what Bailey had to say about covering Wayne...
“We probably have more in common than all these other guys I’m going to be covering this season,” Bailey said. I’m sure I’ll call him ‘old man’ at some point throughout the game.”
Bailey showed some rust last week against the Jags which was expected. Bailey expects to have a better game this Sunday Night. Here's what Bailey had to say about this performance last week
“Not good,” Bailey said. “I’ll just say, I can’t put a letter on it, but it’s not up to par for me. I’m kind of a perfectionist when it comes to my game. It’s something I’ve been looking at and making sure I get a little better every week.”
The Broncos will need the old Champ Bailey to show up this week. If not, look for Luck to target Wayne early and often.