Denver Broncos Look To Remain Undefeated Against Faltering Indianapolis Colts

Denver Broncos Look To Remain Undefeated Against Faltering Indianapolis Colts

Preview of Peyton Manning's return to Indianapolis as Broncos take on Andrew Luck and Colts.

Harold Connett

The 7-0 Denver Broncos are coming off their best performance of the season with a 29-10 conquest of the Green Bay Packers.  The Broncos were finally able to get their offense going as they jumped out to a 14-0 lead, allowing their top-ranked defense to pin their ears back and play the game with the lead for the entire game.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers is sacked by Von Miller #58 and Antonio Smith #90 of the Denver Broncos in the fourth quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 1, 2015 in Denver, Colorado.
(Oct. 31, 2015 - Source: Dustin Bradford/Getty Images North America)

The Broncos are playing the Indianapolis Colts for the first time since they were embarrassed at home 24-13 in the divisional round of the playoffs last January.  A loss that convinced general manager John Elway to fire head coach John Fox and hire Gary Kubiak.

The Broncos head into the game with their confidence at a season-high.  Their offense finally achieved the kind of performance they had been expecting since training camp.  Defensively, the Broncos are playing at a level that has Colts head coach Chuck Pagan comparing them to the 2000 Baltimore Ravens.

The Colts are 3-5 with Andrew Luck struggling and a defense that ranks near the bottom of the league in all statistical categories.

In Week 8 Luck showed flashes of his old self in the fourth quarter against the Carolina Panthers.  Down 17 points in the fourth quarter, the Colts tied the Panthers 26-26 before losing in overtime, 29-26.  

Picked to go to the Super Bowl by many NFL analysts, the Colts find themselves in chaos on the field and in the front office.  Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton was fired during the week, replaced by Rob Chudzinski.  Reports of tension between Pagano, general manager Ryan Grigson, and owner Jim Irsay continue to swirl.

The Broncos come into Week 9 in a three-way race for home-field advantage in the AFC.  The 8-0 Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Cleveland Browns 31-10 on Thursday night.  The 7-0 New England Patriots will host the 3-4 Washington Redskins on Sunday.

Kony Ealy #94 of the Carolina Panthers rushes Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts in the 1st quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 2, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
(Nov. 1, 2015 - Source: Grant Halverson/Getty Images North America)

Denver Broncos - Indianapolis Colts

Week 9 - 11/08/15

Time:  4:25 PM ET


Location:  Lucas Oil Stadium

Line:  Broncos 5.5 (Westgate Superbook)

 Source: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images North America

2015 Record

Denver Broncos


7-0 (1st, AFC West)

Home: 3-0

Road: 4-0

2015 Record

Indianapolis Colts


3-5 (T-1st, AFC South)

Home: 1-3

Road: 2-2

Head-To-Head Record (1974-Present)

Regular Season: Broncos lead 12-9

Playoffs: Colts Lead 3-0 

At Indianapolis:  Colts Lead 7-3

Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders #10 celebrates with wide receiver Demaryius Thomas #88 of the Denver Broncos after Sanders scored during the second half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 18, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Broncos defeated the Browns 26-23 in overtime.
(Oct. 17, 2015 - Source: Jason Miller/Getty Images North America)

Last Met:

01/15/15 at Denver:  Colts 24  Broncos 13 (AFC Divisional Round)

What to watch for as the Broncos take on the Colts:

Will the Broncos' Week 8 offense keep on rolling against the Colts?

The Manning/Kubiak hybrid offense finally produced results last week as the Broncos amassed 500 total yards against the Packers defense.  The offense fired on all cylinders with a passing and rushing attack that resembled Denver's offenses of the past several years.  

Manning (21/29, 340 yds) had his best game of the 2015 season as he picked apart Green Bay's secondary with throws in the middle of the field and deep along the sidelines, completing 81.3% of his passes over 10 yards.  

The offensive line came together with their best effort so far as they punched holes in Green Bay's defensive line and held their blocks long enough for Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson to execute Kubiak's system of making one-cut and running through the hole.  Hillman and Anderson combined for 161 yards and three touchdowns.

Can the Broncos produce similar results in Week 9 against the defense of the Colts?  The statistics say yes.  It has been a struggle this season for the Colts' 30th ranked defensive unit.  The defense ranks 27th against the pass, 28th against the run, 21st in scoring, 24th in yards per play, tied for 19th in turnovers, and tied for 27th in sacks. The Broncos will have every opportunity on Sunday to continue their offensive roll.

Peyton Manning looks to break all-time passing yards and wins records.

Manning returns to Indianapolis 284 yards shy of the all-time record in passing yards (Brett Favre-71,838) and one victory short of the all-time wins record (tied with Favre with 186 wins).  The former Colts quarterback has a chance to break those records in front of the crowd that cheered him on for 14 seasons.  

Welcome to Denver Vernon Davis.

The Broncos pulled off a deal with the San Francisco 49ers a day before the trade deadline to acquire Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis.  The Broncos sent the 49ers their sixth-round picks in 2016 and 2017.  Along with Davis, Denver received San Francisco's seventh-round pick in 2016.

Davis is considered one of the fastest tight ends in the NFL.  The Broncos will utilize the speedy tight end to stretch the field and create gaps in the defense that will allow big completions downfield. Davis will also be a threat in the red zone, something the Broncos have missed from their tight end position since the departure of Julius Thomas to the Jacksonville Jaguars over the offseason.

Denver Broncos tight end Vernon Davis #85  formerly of the San Francisco 49ers catches a pass in the third quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game at Heinz Field on September 20, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
(Sept. 19, 2015 - Source: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images North America) 


Denver Broncos
Offense Position NFL Seasons
Demaryius Thomas WR 6
Vernon Davis TE 10
Ryan Harris LT 9
Evan Mathis LG 10
Matt Paradis C 1
Louis Vasquez RG 7
Michael Schofield RT 2
Owen Daniels TE 10
Emmanuel Sanders WR 6
Peyton Manning QB 18
Ronnie Hillman RB 4
Defense Position NFL Seasons
Derek Wolfe DE 4
Sylvester Williams NT 3
 Malik Jackson DE 4
Von Miller SLB 5
Brandon Marshall ILB 4
Danny Trevathan ILB 4
DeMarcus Ware WLB 11
Aqib Talib LCB 8
T.J. Ward SS 6
Darien Stewart FS 6
 Chris Harris, Jr. RCB 4
Special Teams Position NFL Seasons
Brandon McManus K 2
Britton Colquitt P,H 7
Aaron Brewer LS 4
Omar Bolden KR 4
Emmanuel Sanders PR 6

Indianapolis Colts

Offense Position NFL Seasons
Andre Johnson WR 13
Dwayne Allen  TE 4
Anthony Castonzo LT 5
Jack Mewhort LG 2
Khaled Holmes C 3
Hugh Thornton RG 3
Joe Reitz RT 5
Coby Fleener TE 4
T.Y. Hilton WR 4
Andrew Luck QB 4
Frank Gore RB 11
Defense Position NFL Seasons
Kendall Langford DE 8
David Parry NT R
Henry Anderson DT R
Erik Walden OLB 8
D'Qwell Jackson ILB 10
Jerrell Freeman ILB 4
Robert Mathis OLB 13
Greg Toler LCB 7
Mike Adams SS 12
Dwight Lowery FS 8
Vontae Davis RCB 7
Special Teams Position NFL Seasons
Adam Vinatieri K 20
Pat Mcafee P, H 7
Matt Overton LS 4
Griff Whalen KR, PR 4


2015 NFL Rankings (YPG)
  Broncos Colts
Total Offense 17th (350.7) 16th (352.2)
Passing 12th (255.0) 13th (253.4)
Rushing 26th (95.7) 24th (98.9)
Total Defense 1st (261.1) 30th (404.9)
Passing 1st (171.9) 27th (280.0)
Rushing 4th (89.3) 28th (124.9)
Team Leaders
Passing C/ATT PCT ATT/G YDS AVG YDS/G Long TD  INT Sacks Rating Rank
Peyton Manning 167/266 62.8 38.0 1,864 7.0 266.3 75 7 11 12 75.1 14th
Andrew Luck 141/257 54.9 42.8 1,629 6.3 271.5 87 13 12 14 71.6 20th
Rushing CAR CAR/G YDS AVG YDS/G Long TD Rank        
Ronnie Hillman 85 12.1 383 4.5 54.7 72 4 22nd        
Frank Gore 120 15.0 516 4.3 64.5 25 3 16th        
Receiving REC YDS AVG YDS/G Long TD Rank           
Demaryius Thomas 56 695 12.4 88.2 47 1 4th          
T.Y. Hilton 38 621 16.3 77.6 87 3 T-27th          
Tackles Total Solo Rank                  
Brandon Marshall 54 44 T-25th                  
D'Qwell Jackson 92 48 1st                  
Sacks Total Rank                    
DeMarcus Ware 5.5 T-9th                    
Robert Mathis 4.0 T-28th                    
Interceptions Total TD Rank                  
Aqib Talib 3 2 T-5th                  
Mike Adams 4 1 T-2nd                  

Injury Report

Denver Broncos Position Injury Game Status
Jordan Norwood WR Hamstring Out
Shane Ray OLB Knee Out
Ronnie Hillman RB Thigh Questionable
C.J. Anderson RB Ankle Probable
Shaquil Barrett OLB Toe Probable
Owen Daniels TE Shoulder  Probable
Ryan Harris LT Knee Probable
Peyton Manning QB Right Shoulder Probable
Emmanuel Sanders WR Shoulder Probable
DeMarcus Ware OLB Back Probable
Indianapolis Colts Position Injury Game Status
Phillip Dorsett WR Ankle Out
Nate Irving ILB Knee Out
T.Y. Hilton WR Foot Questionable
Darius Butler CB Foot Probable
Winston Guy S Shoulder Probable
Khaled Holmes C/G Kneck Probable
Andrew Luck QB Ankle Probable

 *Stats via


AFC West W   L   T PCT PF PA Home Road Div Conf Streak L5
Denver Broncos 7    0   0 1.000 168 112 3-0 4-0 2-0 4-0 W7 5-0
Oakland Raiders 4    3   0 .571 178 173 2-2 2-1 1-1 4-2 W2 3-2
Kansas City Chiefs 3    5   0 .375 195 182 2-2 1-3 0-1 2-2 W2 2-3
San Diego Chargers 2    6   0 .250 191 227 2-2 0-4 0-1 1-4 L4 1-4
AFC South W   L   T PCT PF PA Home Road Div Conf Streak L5
Indianapolis Colts 3    5   0 .375 173 203 1-3 2-2 3-0 3-3 L3 2-3
Houston Texans 3    5   0 .375 174 205 2-2 1-3 2-1 2-3 W1 2-3
Jacksonville Jaguars 2    5   0 .286 147 207 2-2 0-3 0-2 2-3 W1 1-4
Tennessee Titans 1    6   0 .143 125 159 0-4 1-2 0-2 0-5 L6 0-5