Sports Authority Field – Sunday 11th January at 21:40 live on Sky Sports 3
All of the headlines will be about Peyton Manning versus Andrew Luck in the Play Offs for the first time, but the latter is a smart man from Stanford who knows there is so much more than just a battle between the Quarter Backs who don’t get on the field at the same time.
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Luck would have been excited to see Dan Herron running the ball effectively against the Cincinnati Bengals last week, but the two fumbles were poor mechanics from the Running Back. He was holding the ball away from the body and the Denver Broncos have quick players on their Defensive Line that won’t hesitate trying to knock the ball out of his hands.
Even if Herron avoids those mistakes, the Indianapolis Colts won’t have a lot of room to establish the run which means this game is likely to be very much on Andrew Luck’s arm and that hasn’t always been a positive against ‘good’ teams. Indianapolis have lost to the Broncos, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys this season and much of that is because Luck pushes himself too hard to stay in games with limited support.
TY Hilton had a number of drops last week which was another issue and that has plagued the Colts through the season and all of that will make it difficult for them to win this game. Even if they play a relatively clean game, Luck is also throwing against a Secondary that has two stand out Corner Backs in Aqib Talib and Chris Harris, while facing a tonne of pressure up front from DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller against this Colts Offensive Line.
The lack of support is something Peyton Manning is not going to be worried about- despite the Quarter Back not playing that well over the last few games, Denver have still been in a position to win games because of some of his supporting cast. CJ Anderson has established a real running game for the Broncos and should have success against this Indianapolis Defence that struggled against Jeremy Hill last week.
Indianapolis can’t just load the box because Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are huge threats in the passing game and Manning will be able to hit his targets if kept in third and short by Anderson. The Colts have some pass rush presence, but that won’t be an issue if Manning is in short yardage spots with his quick release, even if he has thrown some terrible balls of late which have led to Interceptions.
Those ‘ducks’ that Manning has been throwing is a concern, but he has been resting for two weeks and could see an improved performance with the running game he can now lean on. Denver also have the better Defence and Indianapolis have struggled against the top teams they have played, while many of those losses have ended in blow outs.
The Colts were blasted by the New England Patriots in this Round last season and they are 1-4 against the spread against Denver, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New England and Dallas in the regular season. Denver haven’t been that good in the Play Offs when it comes to covering the number as they are 1-3 against the spread in that spot with Peyton Manning at Quarter Back, but I think the Broncos Defence is better than Indianapolis’.
I also think Manning can make enough plays with his arm to help Denver pull away from the Colts, while he can lean on a running game that is likely to pound the ball effectively more than Andrew Luck and all this will lead to Denver moving into the Championship Round. Those losses to teams with winning records just makes me doubt Indianapolis who have to play a lot cleaner than they did in the win over Cincinnati to make this a close game.
Therefore I will take Denver to cover the points in this one.
PICK: Denver Broncos – 7 Points at 2.0
Price correct at time of writing