The Denver Broncos are headed to Indianapolis this weekend to take on the Colts in a showdown at Lucas Oil Stadium. Like most Broncos games, this total is rather low, coming in at 43.5, and the Broncos are 5.5-point underdogs on the road against the Offensive Player of the Week in the AFC, Jacoby Brissett.
The Broncos were riding high into last Thursday night's game against the Chiefs, where they were only a three-point home dog against a Super Bowl favorite. However, the morale is not quite as high at the same time this week as that game got away from Denver in a hurry.
Even when MVP Patrick Mahomes went out with a dislocated kneecap, the Broncos had no juice on the offensive side of the ball to create a comeback.
The Colts are coming into this game off of two impressive wins over two top-end teams right now in the AFC. The Colts put on a clinic against the Chiefs and then backed this statement up with a big win over Houston after the bye week. The Colts are definitely riding a lot of momentum coming into this one.
Broncos Offense vs. Colts Defense
The Broncos offense took a big hit when they agreed to a trade with the San Francisco 49ers to swap Emmanuel Sanders for two future draft picks. I am not surprised to see this acquisition of future assets for this Denver team, and I like the move, but I don't like it if I have the Broncos win total over.
This unquestionably hurts this team as Sanders was the safety blanket for Joe Flacco throughout most of the season. Courtland Sutton has shown flashes but isn't the same type of receiver, and Noah Fant has had a few drops in recent weeks, although he could project to see more short-to-intermediate targets moving forward without Sanders.
Both backs, but particularly Phillip Lindsay, also could see a slight uptick in production based on the lack of a true receiver as a safety blanket. DaeSean Hamilton is the target that should see the biggest increase, and I expect him to take over Sanders' role moving forward.
The biggest question in this game is, do the Broncos have the talent to move the ball against the Colts? The Colts are fast and are getting healthier with the addition of linebacker Darius Leonard last week and safety Malik Hooker this week. I think that the Broncos will really struggle to maintain drives vs. this defense.
Colts Offense vs. Broncos Defense
The Colts offense isn't the same as it was with Andrew Luck, but they are still very good. This is a testament to Frank Reich as a football mind and his ability to put his team in the best situation to succeed.
The Colts were built on speed on the edges, a great O-line, and a great QB. This has taken a slight turn with a lesser talent at QB. That being said, Brissett is no slouch and has done everything asked of him; it's just that the Colts are not asking him to be Luck.
The Broncos defense has been a bit on and off, and I am curious to see them perform here. They struggled to create chaos in the first few weeks, but they have improved lately. However, they have still given up enough yards to worry me in general against a solid offense.
I think that this game is controlled by the Colts from the start, and they cover in a low-scoring game. I like the Colts to score early and force the Broncos to play an uncomfortable game of catchup like we saw them have to play last week.
The Colts have done this very well, and I think this is a perfect game to focus on game management for this young team. I like the Colts -5.5, and I like the under 43.5 here.