Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos (-6, 46 o/u)
At least half of Sunday’s game (4:25 PM Eastern) between the Indianapolis Colts (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS) and Denver Broncos (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) should be pretty interesting as Andrew Luck leads a formidable Indy attack into Mile High to face arguably the best defense in the league.
The other half? It might be interesting, I suppose, but don’t expect the same quality of play. The Indy defense got lit up in Week 1, falling at home to the Lions, 39-35. After a slow start, Luck (31-47, 385 yards, four touchdowns) almost rallied his team from a 21-3 deficit, but the D couldn’t muster enough stops the rest of the way.
Not only was Luck trying to overcome a poor defensive effort from his team, he didn’t get much help from the run game, either. Frank Gore had just 59 yards on 14 carries and the Colts rushed for 82 yards, total.
At least his receivers and tight ends did their part. Slot man Phillip Dorsett (four receptions, 94 yards) led the team in receiving, while TY Hilton (six receptions, 79 yards) and Donte Moncrief (six receptions, 64 yards, one touchdown) had nice days on the outside.
Looking at the Indy defense in a vacuum, prospects aren’t much better this week. Vontae Davis is still recovering from an ankle injury, while fellow CB Patrick Robinson remains in concussion protocol. The team’s only real pass rush threat, Robert Mathis, is dealing with a foot problem.
Looking at the Indy defense in the context of the game, however, they could fare a little better. Trevor Siemian had a decent first start in the NFL (18-26, 178 yards, one touchdown in Week 1) but he won’t pose the same threat in the passing game as Matt Stafford.
With no. 1 receiver Demaryius Thomas (four receptions, 48 yards) suffering from a hip injury, the Colts could see a somewhat one-dimensional Denver attack that leans heavily on RB CJ Anderson (20 carries, 92 rushing yards, two total touchdowns). Thomas is likely to play, but won’t be at full speed.
(Of course, there’s also the possibility that Gary Kubiak tries to build some confidence in his rookie pivot by letting him air it out against a vulnerable Indy secondary. As a Demaryius Thomas fantasy owner, I wish Kubiak would fill us in!)
In last week’s 21-20 win over Carolina, the Denver defense didn’t look like the same unit that spurred the team to a Super Bowl, at least, not in the first half. The Panthers were able to impose their will early, and the Broncos trailed 17-10 at halftime. But the D responded in the second frame, holding the Panthers to just a field goal. (Though they were the beneficiary of Graham Gano shanking the would-be game-winner on the Panthers’ final drive.)
At the end of the day, Denver was able to register three sacks on Cam Newton with both edge rushers, Demarcus Ware (1.5 sacks) and Von Miller (one sack), getting on the stat sheet. Cornerback Chris Harris added a highlight reel pick.
Betting outlook: The trends favor the Colts here; they’re 5-0 ATS in the last five head-to-head with the Broncos. They’re extremely vulnerable on defense. Is Trevor Siemian going to be able to take advantage? The ground game should stay strong, but I don’t see a Siemian-led offense running away from many teams this year. Take Luck and the Colts to keep this one close. They’ll have their struggles against the Denver D, but should be able to find a back-door cover at worst.
Pick: Indianapolis +6.
Photo credit: Mr.schultz, CC BY-SA 3.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.