Eyes in the Backfield: Broncos

18 Things to Watch in Sunday's Colts-Broncos Game

Daddy's home and he's pissed.

Last week, the Colts got a reality check in the form of a bloody nose at the hands of the San Diego Chargers. This week, they take on the Denver Broncos in what is easily the most anticipated NFL game of 2013. So step right up, ladies and gentlemen, the circus is in town and Peyton is back. Here's what to watch for…

1. Watch for the comparison. Obviously Manning and Luck are the stars of the show, so why fight it? The worst comparisons you'll see this week will be comparing Manning through 22 games to Luck through 22 games. It's bad because everyone knows Manning's rookie year was out of line with the rest of his career. LOTS of players are better than Manning through 22 games. However, Manning made the leap before his second season, instead, lets compare the players through the first six games of their second seasons.

  Record Comp Att % Yards YPA TD INT Rating
Andrew Luck 4-2 115 186 61.8 1346 7.2 7 3 89.6
Peyton Manning 4-2 123 209 58.9 1679 8.0 13 8 89.3

Now we are just getting eerie. Manning played in a more vertical offense so his YPA was amazing. But, he threw more picks to go with more touchdowns and had a lower completion percentage.  Matching Peyton Manning through year one? Meh. Matching Peyton Manning through year two? Now that's an accomplishment. You want something to feel good about this weekend. Stare at that chart for a while.

2. Watch for the stars. Marvin Harrison and Edgerrin James are coming back for this. I have no idea what Irsay has planned, but if he's pulling out those guys, it's got to be something. As I mentioned on the radio yesterday, I don't think Peyton can be happy about this little ceremony. He wants to only focus on the game, so I think there's a little bit of gamesmanship at play here. Regardless of what happens on the field, the chance to see Marvin, Edge and Peyton together again is worth the price of admission.

3. Watch for the price of admission. Tickets are going for double and triple face value, and that number should only climb. Season ticket holders get screwed as they are forced to pay for preseason tickets, but games like this are their chance to make some money back. We sold two of our four seats already and it helped offset the cost of the rest of the year. Ticket prices are a little lower right now than I would have guessed, and you can still get in the game for under $200. That's a lot of coin, but not outrageous. It will be interesting to see if prices climb by game time.

4. Watch the crowd. I've made my feelings on what I'll wear and how I'll cheer on Sunday well known, but I can't wait to see what the crowd will do. Manning is still incredibly popular, and if he lays a whipping on the Indy D, I suspect the crowd will start to openly cheer him late in the game. If the Colts hang tough, they may turn on him. Either way, it's going to be fascinating. There are many reasons I want to be at this game, but as a Colts historian, I want to be there to take the temperature inside the Luke that night. No idea what's going down, but it will go a long way to framing the story of football in Indianapolis.

5. Watch for the fallout. Irsays's comments earlier this week were deplorably and incoherent and Peyton sounds pissed. Manning has an eff-you mode that can rival Bill Belichick's. I have no doubt that he kept throwing touchdown passes on the Ravens because he did not like Joe Flacco's picture hung up in Denver. Irsay had the chance in 2012 to 'bet on' Manning and passed. Don't kid yourself that Peyton doesn't take that personally and use it as fuel. He's mad, and if the Colts manage to beat him, it will be a serious accomplishment. Remember his "I'll kick your ass for the next 14 years" comment to Polian before the draft? Well, he's not here anymore so I'd say the ass kicking is about to begin. Long-term, I worry that Irsay's comments will have a permanent chilling effect on Manning's ability to return to Indy. I'd love to see him be Elway in this city some day, but that's only going down if the boss keeps his mouth shut.

6. Watch the standings. A win by Indy and a loss by the Texans could all but seal up the AFC South before the bye week. The Titans play the 49ers, so a Colts win could extend their lead past where fans have to worry about the postseason. But should the Colts fall back to 4-3 and either Tennessee or Houston post an upset, everyone is going to start feeling uneasy. Next up after Denver is a tough prime-time game against the Texans. Houston isn't a good team, but I can't believe they are quite as bad as they've looked. That's no lay-up game. If the Colts aren't careful, they could find themselves back at .500 before long. If the Colts are truly an elite team in the AFC, they'll get the chance to prove it. A good showing (win or lose) against Denver and a road victory at Houston, and they'll be sitting pretty in the second half.

7. Watch for the 09 Dolphins.  The Colts have to be dying to try and play keep away from the Broncos. Remember that 09 MNF game where Miami held it for 45 minutes and lost? That's the script Pagano wants to follow. Maybe Indy will try and go up and down the field with Denver, but I doubt it. I expect a lot of Trent Richardson early and often (side note: If Donald Brown had rushed for 4.0 yards a carry with a dropped pass and blown block, fans would have killed him. /rant). Pagano believes in his brand of football, so look for the Colts to do ball control, short passes and to try and keep Manning off the field.

8. Watch for the weak link. Greg Toler and Delono Howell were abused Monday by Phil Rivers, and we've all seen what Manning does when he spots a vulnerable player. Manning will go after Toler all night as he's been basically terrible in coverage this year (88.9 passer rating against). Vontae Davis hasn't been as good as fans think, but he's been credible. Toler has not. As for Howell, hopefully he won't see the field. LaRon Landry has been practicing, so if he can go, the Indy defense gets a lot tougher.

9. Watch the video. My brother Luke has been aggressive and surly all week. Now that may be cute for those of you who follow him on Twitter, but I have to sit with the dude. He's been in a bad mood and called me several times just angrily rant against those who dare besmirch the name of Manning. I've promised to take video of him during the game and post it on Twitter. I try to keep my feed PG-13, but these posts may come with a NC-17 warning. Of course, it could go the other way. He could be so bummed by watching "Pey-Pey", that he slumps in his seat all catatonic. Either way, I'll be entertained.

10. Watch for the aggression. Guess who has two thumbs and hated Pagano's decisions to punt late in the Chargers game? That kind of conservative play will not fly against Manning. Pagano needs to coach this game much the way Sean Payton did in the Super Bowl. He has to steal possessions. If the Colts have the lead late in a close game, they had better stay aggressive, because if they punt back to Manning, they'll lose. This is the kind of game where a coach has to take his game to the next level just like his players. It's an excellent test for Pagano.

11.Watch for the hand off. As much as we all expect Manning to come out guns blazing, don't think he didn't see the Chargers ripping off huge runs against the Indy defense. Manning is going to give his running backs plenty of work Sunday night. The Colts have one of the worst rushing defenses in football, and we know Manning will take what he can get. I'm not saying he's going to play circa-2005 Manning-ball, but there will be plenty of runs.

12. Watch for the response. So, Andrew Luck. Remember him? He's normally the story of any Colts game, but not this week. He's coming off a disappointing game in which his receivers took a collective dump on his reputation by dropping roughly 135% of the passes he threw to them. They dropped so many passes, that at one point Heyward-Bey dropped a pass, picked up the ball and dropped it again just out of spite. So now with all the attention on Manning, it's Luck's turn to come up huge and prove that he's everything that was promised. He wasn't to blame for the loss Monday, but how he responds in a tight spot is worth watching. He's going against a vulnerable secondary, so look for a big game out of him. Denver is the mirror of Indy. Same quality defense, but much better against the run than the pass. Luck will have to win this game if it is to be won.

13. Watch for gap. Denver has the best special teams play in the NFL.  Indy is basically average. The Colts have solid kickoff coverage units, but the Broncos have the best return game in football. Trindon Holiday is as much better than David Reed as the gap between any two other opposite players on the field. Pat McAfee has struggled punting, but his kickoffs have been mostly strong. The Colts need him to have a huge game as they can't allow any extra advantages for Denver.

14. Watch for the myths. The misinformation surrounding Manning's departure continues. I've read every one of these myths in the press this week. Many from guys who should know better. If we are going to have a Luck v. Manning debate, can we at least get the facts correct? The best part about going to the game will be not having to listen to the pregame blather. The evaluation of Luck and Manning is a complex one. There's no simple answer, and there may be more than one right answer. Is it too much to ask that we handle the issue with the complexity it deserves? Anyone who tells you that it's obvious what the Colts should have done because of X, is probably not someone to listen to on the matter.

15. Watch for fatigue. I haven't written 18 points in a long time, so I know that point 14 was just a rehash of a column I already wrote, but go easy. I'm out of practice. I forgot how long it takes to do one of these bad boys, so if I cheated a little bit in point 14, I hope you understand. Plus, I wanted to pimp that article, because honestly it's really good, and I wish everyone should read it. I don't always feel that way about my pieces, but I'm aware when I've written something killer, and that one was important. So thanks for understanding.

16. Watch for disgust. I'm not ok with Wes Welker. I never will be ok with Wes Welker. For one, his first name is Wes. You know who else is named Wes? Wesley Crusher. Ok, so also Wes Anderson, but mostly WESLEY CRUSHER. Watching Peyton Manning throw to Wes Welker makes me feel like this. I don't want to feel like that. You want me to turn on Peyton Manning? Having him throw to Wes Welker 200 times a year might just do it. The problem is that Sunday night, it's going to happen a lot. Welker leads the world in DYAR and the Colts aren't very good against second receivers. Things could get…uncomfortable.

17. Watch the first of many. The scene this weekend is going to be replayed every year until Peyton retires. Indy is going to keep winning the South. Denver is going to keep winning the West. They'll play at least once and maybe twice every year. Manning v. Luck isn't going away. I expect Peyton to play another three seasons at least, so we'll see this matchup over and over. If you think this was bad, just wait until the inevitable playoff matchup takes place. That will be delightful.

18. Watch for a reckoning. Manning didn't like getting cut, and there's no way he liked Irsay's insane comments this week. He is going to bludgeon the Colts without mercy. I don't think Indy can keep up.  Broncos 48 Colts 31.

Eyes in the Backfield-Broncos

18 Things to Watch For in Sunday’s Colts Broncos Game

This is scary on soooo many levels.

Last week the Colts erased all fears and in the process destroyed the Giants.  Now they head back on the road to take on the Broncos.  The Colts have had their way with Denver in recent years, and will need to get the best of them one more time if they hope to have a winning record for the first time this season.  This week, watch for…

1.  Watch the Ace.  With Pierre Garcon hurting, it stands to reason that the Colts will use a lot of their two tight end set.  Frankly, it’s a welcome change.  The two TE grouping creates more flexibility than the three wide package.  The Manning can seamlessly check from run to pass plays knowing that he can use Dallas Clark however he wants.  After a strong game by Brody Eldrige blocking last week, watch for more playing time by the rookie.

2.  Watch outside.  In the same vein, Austin Collie has suddenly become one of the only healthy wideouts the Colts have.  Though he’s seen as a natural slot receiver, he may have to play outside on Sunday.  The Colts other option if Garcon is hurt is to flex Dallas Clark out wide and keep Collie in the slot.  Collie has had a spectacular start to the season, with only a tough fumble (after being hit by three players) in Houston to blemish his record, but this will test the limits of his skills.

3.  Watch for the Shark.  The Broncos have been battling injuries in the secondary all week.  Corners Champ Bailey and Andre Goodman have been held out of practice almost all week.  This is a nightmare for the Broncos as Peyton Manning can sense when there is blood in the water with a secondary.  If a back up corner gets lined up against one his targets, Manning will go to him over and over.

4.  Watch the emotion.  No one can predict how the tragic news of the death of injured WR Kenny McKinley will affect the team.  Suicides are devastating and affect people differently from other kinds of passing.  The Broncos could come out inspired or in shock.  For a team that has suffered more than its share of painful losses, Sunday will be a stiff test of their resolve and professionalism.

5. Watch for a lack of balance.  Only not from the Colts.  Through two weeks, the Broncos have the best passing offense by DVOA at a stunning 73% better than average. They have the 5th worst run game at -30.4%.  To make matters worse for the Broncos, they are playing without RB Knowshon Moreno.  Oh, and they are playing defense built to stop the pass.  They are going to have find a way to protect Kyle Orton if they want to win.

6.  Watch for the turncoats. With the Colts playing a legendary Purdue quarterback, watch your Boilermaker friends turn on the Horse.  Unless of course Peyton Manning gets hurt and then Curtis Painter plays.  Then it will be Purdue on Purdue crime.  That would suck in so many ways, but at least we’ll get the satisfaction of seeing at least one black and gold alum suffer.

7.  Watch the race.  Peyton Manning is currently only 659 yards behind John Elway for third on the all time list.  I realize that it’s probably unlikely that Manning will catch Elways on Sunday, though you have to admit that if he threw for 660 yards in Mile High to beat the Broncos and catch Elway, that would be the biggest ‘screw you’ of all time to the city of Denver.  By the way, Manning has now thrown for more TDs and completions than Elway, and trails him by 16 wins on the all time list.

8.  Watch for the blitz pick up.  Joe Addai is hurting.  Even if he plays, he might be limited.  That means that Sunday could well be Don Brown’s big opportunity to steal more playing time.  With Addai in a walk year, the Colts desperately need Brown to show that he can be the lead back.  Frankly, the real worry has been his ability to block in the passing game.  Manning trusts Addai to make the big blocks necessary to keep him upright.  If Brown can stone a few linebackers and make a couple of nice chips, it could signal that he’s ready to take his place in the Colts backfield regularly.

9.  Watch the active list.  Seeing Jerry Hughes inactive for the first two games has been troubling, but if there was ever a game where you need an extra DE, it would be Sunday.  The Broncos love to throw, and the Colts will be playing at altitude, which means there’s a priority on rotating out Freeney and Mathis.  My expectations for Hughes are modest, but they do include actually being active on Sundays.  If he’s not a go this week, you have to wonder what’s happening.

10. Watch the $11 million battering ram.  I’m on record as questioning the Tebow pick, but now that he’s on the roster for the Broncos, they have to figure out how to use him.  To this point, the plan seems to be to ram him into a wall repeatedly.  He’s had two short yardage type runs for a total of 1 yard.  After watching him in camp, the Broncos extended Kyle Orton.  Now they figure they have the league’s most expensive fullback.

11. Watch for the King of Mile High. You can add Denver to the list of teams that Peyton Manning has owned during his career.  Like Baltimore and Houston, Manning has slaughtered the Broncos. Manning is 7-2 against Denver (with one loss being a meaningless end of the year game in which he played one series).  He beat them twice in the playoffs and his numbers against them are insane:  66.5%, 2165 yards, 21 TDs, 6 picks, and a rating of 108.4.  Considering that he basically put up those numbers in 8 games, you can do the math yourself, double them, and realize that he dominates Denver.

12. Watch for Crash and Burn. Jason Whitlock dubbed Mathis and Freeney that this week.  Both men are on fire this week with three sacks a piece.  I see the Colts opening up a big lead on the Broncos and then turning loose the big dogs to feast.  Look for both men to pick up at least one sack this week against Orton.

13. Watch the linebackers.  Session is ailing again this week, and Brackett is listed as probable.  Without Session and Brackett at 100%, the Colts backers are a below average unit.  Last week, Caldwell said that rookie Kavell Conner was noticible for not making any big mistakes.  That’s all we can ask for from the linebackers right now.  As long as everyone does their job and no one screws up too badly, we’ll have to settle for a lack of big plays from them.

14.  Watch what’s missing.  Last year, the Colts handled Denver pretty well at home, but an insane 21 catch day by Brandon Marshall got the Broncos back in the game late.  The only problem for Denver is that neither Marshall nor the man who covered him most of the day (Tim Jennings) are going to be on the field on Sunday.  The Broncos new top WR is Eddie Royal, who had a strong rookie year in 2008, but saw a dramatic drop in production last year.  Rookie Demaryius Thomas had a nice game in week two, but without Marhall (and Jennings), you have to wonder where the Broncos are going to get their offense.

15. Watch the deer.  CBS is sending their top crew of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms to the game.  They are perhaps the least critical pair in the NFL, and Simms always finds a way to fawn over Peyton Manning. The only problem is that he’ll probably fawn over Kyle Orton too.  I refer to Nantz and Simms as “Buck and Doe”, because their games always have so much fawning going on.

16. Watch the most overrated underrated player in football. Kyle Orton is not good.  Somehow, he’s managed to put up half decent numbers despite, not being good at football. Because of that pundits love to talk about how everyone over looks Kyle Orton and how he’s secretly a competent QB.  He’s not.  He sucks.  Sure he put up 3,800 yards and a rating in the mid 80s last year (a vintage Brady kind of season), but he’s basically just a guy.  He’s not going to win you a Super Bowl, and he’s probably not even going to take you to the playoffs.  He faded down the stretch last year, and has played two bad teams to start this year.  I’m selling, not buying Kyle Orton.

17. Watch the spelling.  For some reason, I can’t spell Broncos.  Seriously.  I type Bronocos.  Every time.  It’s like Pat Bowlen bought a gas station or something.  It’s not even that hard of a word to spell.  It’s a mental block.  I can’t explain it.

18.  Watch for the beat-down. I’m convinced Denver is a terrible team. They have a terrible defense. They have a terrible running game.  Suddenly, I’m supposed to believe that Kyle Orton is an elite QB who is going to keep them in games?  No.  Sorry.  No.  Indy wins big 35-10.

Eyes in the Backfield-Broncos

18 Things to Watch During Sunday’s Colts/Broncos Game

The residents of Denver are none too happy with the Zombie

Last week, the Colts handled the Titans exactly how we thought they would.  This week, the Broncos roll into Indy for quite possibly the last meaningful game the Colts will play until January.  The revitalized Broncos desperately need this win to say alive in the playoff race.  Be on the lookout for:

1.  Watch for the Moon.  There are a lot of things that may or may not happen in this game.  One thing that will happen is that Peyton Manning will pass Warren Moon for fourth place on the all time passing yards list.  He only needs 12 to pass Moon.  Manning will have thrown for more yards than Moon despite having played in 19 fewer games (more than one full season less than Moon).  Next up on the list is John Elway, who Manning should overtake early next season.  The top two spots are Marino and Favre and will take a good many years to catch.

2.  Watch the tackles.  The Broncos are one of the best teams in the league at bringing pressure.  They are 5th in the NFL in sacks, and second in passing defense.  For the Colts the question will be how their banged up tackles play.  Indy’s top three tackles (Diem, Johnson, and Ugoh) are all battling injuries, and none of them have distinguished themselves this year.  Diem might not even play on Sunday meaning Ugoh will flip to right tackle.  If the Broncos can get pressure off the edge with NFL sack leader Elvis Dumervil on Manning, it will be a long day for the Colts.

3.  Watch for mirror images.  On the season, the Broncos have allowed 202 points and Indy 201.  They’ve both posted a defensive passer rating of 76.6.  The Broncos allow 6.2 YPA and the Colts 6.3.  Denver has allowed just 10 passing TDs for the season, and the Colts just 11.  Indy has allowed the fewest 20 yard passes in the NFL, Denver is fourth.  The Broncos have had a few more sacks, and the Colts a few more picks, but at the end of the day, these are two of the elite defenses in the NFL.

4.  Watch the party pooper.  Kyle Orton was the Bears QB for opening day of Lucas Oil Stadium last year.  The Purdue grad played his typical unspectacular, but adequate game.  He was 13 for 21 for 150 yards with no TDs and no INTs.  Orton is on pace for career highs in TDs, yards, rating, completion percentage and YPA.  He’ll have to play an efficient game to topple the Colts on Sunday.  If he does, he would be responsible for two of the Colts’ three losses at the Luke.

5.  Watch the underneath route. The Broncos have allowed just one completion for longer than 40 yards all season.  As stated earlier, they are among the stingiest teams in the NFL in 20 yard pass plays allowed.  The Broncos have been death to #2 and #3 wide receivers on the year.  They’ll have to match up with Wayne, Clark, and Addai, but the numbers say it could be a quiet day for Collie and Garcon.  The key will be the Colts being able to block without keeping Addai or Clark in to pass protect.  If they can flood the patterns underneath, there should be yards available.

6.  Watch the cornerstones.  Freeney and Mathis are indispensable to the Colts, but both have been battling injuries.  Mathis claims he’s going to play on Sunday, but the Colts have to be judicious with both pass rushers.  Any playoff success the Colts hope to have is going to depend on both men being healthy and at their best.  Freeney came back from a week off with a sack.  If Mathis should play, his effectiveness will be closely watched.

7.  Watch the elites battle.  Champ Bailey should spend some time on Reggie Wayne Sunday, making for a matchup of elite corner verses elite WR.  The Colts will seek to find all kinds of ways to alter that lineup by moving Wayne around the line of scrimmage and by creating pick type plays.  Bailey is no longer the unquestioned “best corner in the league”, but he’s still pretty good.  Wayne has had a slow couple of weeks with just 7 catches for 67 yards in his last two games.  If he can beat Bailey one on one, Indy should roll.

8. Watch for a pitch count.  Joseph Addai has done the dirty work this year for the Colts, but Indy’s plan to have him split time with Donald Brown just hasn’t worked out.  He hasn’t exactly been over worked as he hasn’t had more than 21 carries in any game (last week), and is on pace for 241 carries (15 a game) which would be second most in his carrer.  He also has a career high 43 catches this season.  None of that covers the toll that blocking takes on his body either.   Addai has had durability issues in the past, and the Colts need him fresh and healthy for the playoffs.  Even if the Colts get out to a big lead and face running situations, watch for plenty of Hart and Simpson.

9. Watch for nothing special.  Neither Indy nor Denver have had a very good season on special teams.  The Colts have an elite kickoff coverage unit (thanks to McAfee’s long kicks), and the Broncos are well above average in punt returns (due to playing in Denver so punts sail more, maybe?), but the two teams rank just 20th and 21st in FOs Special Teams rankings with an identical -0.3%.  This game will likely be decided by the offenses and defenses rather than by a big play in special teams.

10. Watch the best run blocking line in football.  The Denver Broncos have a solid run game that is set up almost entirely by their offensive line.  According to FO, Denver leads the league in ‘Adjusted Line Yards‘.  The Broncos combo of Moreno and Buckhalter have combined for more than 1300 yards.  Buckhalter is on pace to shatter career highs in both yards and YPC behind this group.  The Colts are going to have to shed blocks and force the Broncos into third downs, but there will likely be stretches of the game where the defense gets blown off the ball by this stellar unit. The Broncos have been held under 100 yards rushing just three times this year and all three teams that did it are in the top 6 in rushing defense.  Denver will run the ball successfully on Sunday.

11. Watch for a pick. Kyle Orton threw just one interception (a hail mary to end a half) in his first 7 games of the season, but has now thrown 6 in his last five games.  The Colts secondary has picked off at least one pass in its last 8 games.  Orton has to play mistake free football to pull off the upset, but the Colts secondary is greedy.  With Kelvin Hayden returning to the starting lineup on Sunday, the corner squad is primed to be better than ever.

12.  Watch the final push.  Pro Bowl squads will be announced frighteningly soon, and several Colts need strong statements to get over the top.  Guys like Bethea, Bullitt, and especially Clint Session need to use this game to springboard them to getting named to the squad.  Of course, we obviously hope that none of them actually play in the game, because it will take place the week before the Super Bowl this year.  Still, it’s a big honor for these guys, and many of them deserve it.  The offense will be sending Saturday, Manning, Clark and Wayne almost for sure, and it’s safe to assume that Mathis and Freeney are locks as well.  Just six players off a dominant team isn’t nearly enough, and a big game from some of these other guys will go a long way to rectifying that.

13 Watch for insanity.  Bronco fans have had it in for me all season, since I picked the Broncos to finish 4-12.  Every time they win a game, the crazies come out in force to remind me that I picked them to finish at the bottom of the heap. Seeing as how I still don’t believe the Broncos are any good, I also don’t care that they are mad.  Should Denver pick up the win on Sunday, I won’t be able to deal with the fallout in my inbox.  I really need the Colts to win this game.

14.  Watch the only option.  Brandon Marshall has 65 catches for Denver.  Their #2 receiver, Eddie Royal, has 33.  Marshal has 7 of the Broncos 14 receiving TDs on the season.  In other words, take Marshall away and the Broncos have no one else to throw to.  Indy would be wise to shade double coverage his way and force Royal or Jabar Gaffney (seriously) to beat them.  Then again, Marshall only has two 100 yard games on the season and the Broncos lost both.

15. Watch for small consolation.  Should the Broncos come into the Luke and pull off the upset, have no fear.  Everyone knows that Indy has owned Denver in the Manning era, going 6-2 with two blowout playoff wins.  What everyone doesn’t remember is that both losses immediately preceded the two playoff butt kickings.  In 2003, the Broncos came to the dome and pushed the Colts around leading many to assume the playoff rematch just a couple of weeks later would go to Denver.  In 2004, the Colts played their starters only a series before yanking Manning, Harrison and company.  Denver handily won the game insuring a rematch in Indy the next week.  Once again, the Colts cruised.  So if the Broncos pull off the win, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad playoff matchup for Indy.

16Watch for the record.  We don’t make a big deal about the 21 consecutive wins, because it’s kind of a hollow deal because of the San Diego playoff loss.  Still, it’s a record the Pats hold, and a Super Bowl win after this season would certainly serve to validate it in terms of historic significance.

17Watch the homecoming.  Brandon Stokley and Darrell Reid are coming back to the Luke.  Reid has had a nice season for the Broncos, with four sacks already this season after spending his time in Indy as a special teams wizard.  Stokley has had a frustrating season for the Broncos that started with a miracle catch, but has resulted in nothing more than a catch or two every couple of weeks.  Both players were popular Colts and should be welcomed back.

18.  Watch for the wrap up.  The Colts are the better team. They are just now hitting stride.  I can’t see Denver coming in and knocking them off this week.  The Colts win and clinch the #1 overall seed in the AFC. DZ says Indy 31 Denver 17.  Demond likes the Colts by a score of 24-16.