Week seven of the 2013 NFL season should have featured a matchup between two teams in the league that were rolling as the Indianapolis Colts and the Denver Broncos are matched up in a battle between two of the AFC’s best. However, it doesn’t feel quite as much like the clash of the titans that it could have been.
The Colts now sit at 4-2 coming off of a week six loss to the San Diego Chargers by a score of 19-9. In their second loss of the season, the Colts’ defense was burned for 374 total yards by San Diego’s offense, which obviously doesn’t bode well for the Colts against the high-octane Broncos. Arguably the Colts’ biggest problem against the Chargers, though, was their lack of balance offensively.
Throughout this season, people have deservedly been singing the praises of second-year quarterback Andrew Luck. Despite that, this team has consistently preached that they are going to run the ball, only that didn’t happen a great deal against San Diego. They dropped back to throw 31 times in that game while running the ball only 17 times. Interestingly, they shied away from the running game despite their backs and Luck averaging 4.4 yards per carry for the game.
The Colts, for the year, rank eighth in the league in terms of rushing yards per game. Contrarily, the Broncos have the best run defense in the NFL, allowing a mere 69.8 yards per game on the ground from their opponents. Even with Denver’s run defense, the Colts can’t abandon the run like they did against the Chargers.
For this Indianapolis team, the running game with Trent Richardson and Donald Brown does a number of things for them. Not only does it help open u the passing game for Luck and make the quarterback’s life easier, but it also, more importantly, allows the Colts to control the pace of the game. Pace is going to be a key factor in this game if Indy wants to up-end the undefeated Broncos, who like to play at break-neck speeds.
I’m not saying that Richardson and the Colts’ running game will have a great deal of success running the ball against Denver because, if the first six weeks are any indication, they probably won’t. However, if the Colts abandon their ground game, it’s going to be detrimental to the rest of the things they are trying to do. Obviously their defense is going to need a great effort as well, but a great defensive showing won’t mean anything if Indianapolis can’t successfully run their offense.