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Broncos vs. Colts: Keys to the game

Here are some things the Denver Broncos have to do against the Indianapolis Colts to come away with a win.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts are coming off a down-to-the-wire finish against the Lions in what was a battle of who had the ball last, because neither defense was stopping anyone; while the Denver Broncos had their own close finish and came out lucky on a potential game-winning field goal sailing wide left.

The Colts are determined not to start the season 0-2, and the Broncos are looking to turn around their horrible record against a team that seems to have their number, as Denver has gone 1-8 over the last ten years versus Indianapolis.

Here are some things to watch for in this game.

1. Stop the tight ends

Tight ends have long been the Achilles heel of the Broncos defense. Last week, Greg Olsen logged 7 catches for 73 yards on 9 targets, with his longest play being 18 yards. This means he was consistently getting chunk yardage on our D and was a big reason Carolina moved the chains so effectively.

Moving over to the Colts. TEs accounted for 23 of the Colts 35 points in week 1 with just one WR touchdown to 3 TDs for the tight ends, plus a 2-point conversion. Andrew Luck is going to try and get Dwayne Allen and Jack Doyle going, and the safeties and linebackers have to bring their A-game in coverage to get the Colts off the field.

2. Pound the rock

You’ll probably see this as a key to the game every week, but this week in particular there is extra opportunity.

Denver is already coming off a successful game running the football where the racked up nearly 5 YPC against one of the top run defenses; Indianapolis is far from that.

Last week the Colts allowed one of the worst rushing teams in the league from last year to rip off 109 yards rushing and 2 TDs on 5.19 YPC.

What do you think our running game is going to do to this defense??

Additionally, per MHR’s Ian Henson, the Colts ranked 28th last week on defending runs off of, or outside, the tackles, giving up a 5.1 YPC average on those runs. Denver just so happens to have tremendous success running outside the tackles. You’re all familiar with C.J. Anderson’s big TD runs against New England and Cincinnati last year. Against Carolina a week ago, C.J. carried 14 times for 48 yards on interior runs in Week 1 (3.4 YPC), while rushing six times for 44 yards (7.3) YPC off either tackle or end.

This looks like a match made in heaven. If you have C.J. Anderson in your fantasy leagues, I recommend you start him, because it’s going to be a blood bath.

3. Get interior pressure on Andrew Luck

A few days ago I mentioned the lack of interior rush on Cam Newton in my Tale of the Tape series. The Lions had similar issues getting to Andrew Luck as the Colts offensive line looked much improved. The Lions have some decent edge rushers, and were getting around the edge pretty well, but the interior push was non-existent from what I saw on tape and was a big factor in each of Luck’s TD passes.

Look at that beautiful pocket Luck has. Now the Colts from what I saw, single blocked the edge guys a lot and doubled in the interior to ensure that Luck had that clean pocket, but that won’t fly against Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware. The big key will be Sly, Wolfe, and whoever else rushes from inside in sub-packages, winning their one-on-ones.

Otherwise it’s going to be a long night.

4. No dumb mistakes

You’ll probably see this in here every week, at least until we stop turning the ball over, missing blitz pickups, and committing needless penalties. Wade Phillips talked about how frustrating penalties were last week. Let’s see if they can clean it up this week.

If you’re Trevor Siemian, you cannot turn the ball over. The reason you are in there is to be a game manager. If you’re throwing INTs at the same rate Peyton Manning was last year, it’s not going to work. And if Booker touches the ball, he needs to have two hands on that thing at all times.

5. Play aggressive

You know, I almost put “hit Luck, but be careful you don’t repeat last week”, but I don’t want the defense to play careful. I certainly don’t want to see them hit Luck in the head or make bad decisions on plays, but the minute you slow down and hesitate because you’re worried about doing something wrong, you lose your edge and the offense runs right by you.

This defense is built on playing fast, being aggressive, and flying to the ball. We can’t lose that, no matter how many people want to paint us as dirty, we have to maintain our edge. Just be smart and make good decisions (I sound like a parent now!)

What are your thoughts, Broncos Country? Any keys I missed?

Let’s discuss!