We've established that the Denver Broncos' Divisional round playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts is much, much more than Peyton Manning vs. Andrew Luck. But that doesn't mean it isn't the prevailing storyline for this game. The coverage for The Sheriff vs .The Young Gun is somehow even greater than the coverage surrounding the fact that Manning is facing his old team.
Manning-Luck III is Rocky V, writes The Denver Post's Ben Hochman.
He was the greatest, a champion, until injuries sidelined him, reduced him. A new kid, a protégé of sorts, emerged and took his place in the spotlight, while the old champ battled demons and Father Time. But then, triumphantly, the old champ arose again, and sure enough, here he was, engaged and enraged in battle against the new kid.
Of course, I'm talking about Rocky Balboa and the wonderfully mulleted Tommy "Machine" Gunn in "Rocky V."
It's not the first time Hochman has profiled the eerie similarities between Luck and Manning's young careers. The Rocky V comparison is a distinction that we all hope doesn't result in an over-the-top finale like this.
Meanwhile, Luck is saying all the right things. "The quarterback versus quarterback thing, we're not on the field at the same time," he said. "I have a lot of respect obviously for what he does, what he still does. He's a stud, but I'm worried about the Denver defense."
Similar to the Broncos and Peyton circa 2013, the Colts are a team that completely relies on Luck to succeed, says the Indy Star. USA Today's Nancy Armour writes that Luck will be better than Peyton, while ESPN's Neil Hornsby makes a compelling argument that Luck is more like Brett Favre than Manning. Oxymoronic, no?
United in Orange
"Welcome to Denver! This is DeMarcus Ware of your AFC West champion Broncos," the defensive end says on announcements on terminal trains at the Denver airport starting Monday. "It's playoff time, and we are all United in Orange. Go Broncos!"
Denver's local leadership are in an orange and blue mood as well.
Since 1990, there have been 16 games in which the home team held such an edge, and in those games, the home team was 15-1.
The Broncos used the bye week to get healthy. T.J. Ward and Brandon Marshall are expected to be available vs. Indy, and Julius Thomas talked about how much the week off meant to him and his still-ailing ankle.
Mike Florio was able to interview John Elway this week. One highlight:
On PFT Live, @JohnElway said he doesn't know whether both Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas will be back next year.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) January 5, 2015
Finally, with a big warning for strong language, here's a Word Cloud of the most-used words on the Denver Broncos subreddit in 2014. We're potty mouths, Broncos Country.