Broncos at Colts – NFL Pick for December 14th
Spread: Broncos -3
We’re only a few years removed from the Broncos and the Colts being one of the AFC’s most intriguing rivalries. Both franchises have claimed a Super Bowl title within the last 11 years, both of which came with Peyton Manning playing quarterback. The games in recent years that would pit Manning and the Broncos against Andrew Luck and the Colts were must-see TV.
Unfortunately, that isn’t the case this time around. Denver and Indianapolis have a combined record of just 7-19 on the season, and both teams occupy last place in their respective divisions. It’s safe to say neither will be factoring into this season’s playoff picture.
Still, it’s the only game on the Thursday schedule this week, so people will tune in. Both the Broncos and Colts have had unstable quarterback situations all year long. Denver has already cycled through Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch. Now, they’re back to starting Siemian. The Colts, meanwhile, started Scott Tolzien in Week 1 before benching him in favor of Jacoby Brissett. Brissett hasn’t been terrible, but it’s obvious that the team misses Luck, who has missed the entire season with a concerning shoulder injury.
Indy enters this game losers of 4 straight. The Colts played the Bills on Sunday in the midst of a blizzard in Buffalo and came out on the losing end of a 13-7 result in overtime. The Colts’ lone victories on the season have come against the Browns, 49ers and Texans (without Deshaun Watson), which tells you all you need to know about this team’s quality.
It’s safe to say the Colts will be happy to be playing this game indoors and on their home turf. Indy’s offense was even more anemic than usual in snowy Buffalo, as they mustered just 227 yards of total offense. Because of the conditions, the Colts’ offense consisted primarily of handing the ball to Frank Gore, who tallied 130 yards rushing on 36 attempts.
We should see a more balanced approach to the team’s offense against the Broncos, though this is a matchup between 2 of the more inept offenses in the NFL. Indianapolis ranks 30th in the league in scoring, averaging just over 16 points per game. Denver isn’t much better, as they rank 26th with 17.6 points per game.
The Broncos had dropped 8 consecutive games before toppling the Jets last Sunday. Denver’s defense, which has been underperforming in a big way all season long, finally decided to show up. The Broncos held the shorthanded Jets scoreless in a 23-0 victory.
Siemian has shown flashes at times, but in order to win the Broncos are going to need to play offense methodically. Siemian was efficient against the Jets without being asked to do too much. He finished the win having completed 19 of his 31 throws for an even 200 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions.
The Broncos have been using a running back-by-committee type of approach, though CJ Anderson did get the lion’s share of the looks last week. He carried the ball 22 times, while Devontae Booker was a distant second with 9 totes.
If Denver’s defense can come close to replicating the performance against New York, it’s tough to imagine how the Colts are going to generate consistent offense. There is clearly more talent on this unit than they’ve shown all season, and defense should be what keeps them in this one.
The Broncos on the road look like a solid play here. They haven’t had much success in Indianapolis over the years, but things are different now.