This will be the first time Manning has been back in Lucas Oil Stadium suited up to play since that January 2011 playoff loss to the New York Jets. This game has been hyped up all year and will likely break every TV ratings record as everyone will want to see how Manning does against his former team in the place he helped build.
This game though is more than just Manning returning to Indianapolis. If the Colts play like the team they’re supposed to, this could be a high-scoring dramatic affair. If they play like they did on Monday Night, then they will likely get blown out of the stadium by their former quarterback.
Indianapolis is typically extremely good at home. They’re 9-2 under Andrew Luck at home the past year in a half. The only two losses came late in the fourth quarter. One thing many are saying is that Manning will come in and try and stick it to the Colts for letting him go. I’ve also heard people say Manning knows this team by playing in Indianapolis, so he should thrive.
Both couldn’t be more wrong.
The Colts can beat the Broncos if they get pressure on Manning. If this defense plays like they did between Weeks 3 through 5, they will be in good shape.
This defense, when healthy and executing to it’s fullest, is the kryptonite that Manning could never beat. Think about how many times people said the hybrid base 3-4 scheme was Manning’s nemesis. He struggled to read where blitzes were coming from and couldn’t deal with an aggressive secondary. That’s exactly who the Colts are.
Indianapolis ranks fifth in points per game giving up just 16.3 and 11th in total defense. They also ranks fifth against the pass, so if Greg Toler can decide he wants to be a football player and play press coverage, the Colts will be in very good shape.
Also, the whole “Manning knows this team” point is utterly false. This is an entirely different franchise than the teams he played on. Most of the guys he played with are long gone. He knows barely anyone on this team. In fact, it could have the opposite on him as the guys that are on this team know Manning and his tendencies very well.
On the other side of the ball, the Colts need to allow Andrew Luck to be Andrew Luck. They need to take the training wheels off and let him throw. Luck is a very smart quarterback and has weapons at his disposal. It’s no secret that no matter what the defense does, Manning and the Broncos are going to score. They’re going to light up the scoreboard.
The Broncos rank dead last against the pass, but can boast the top-ranked rush defense. The Colts, on the other hand, are trying to be a run-first offense as they rank eighth in the league. I’m going on record now and saying that if the Colts don’t change that tune this week, they will lose by 20-plus. If they allow Luck to throw and make plays, then they will win. It’s as simple as that.
This game comes down to who can create the most turnovers and who can maximize their offensive possessions. No matter how much the Colts want to slow it down and make it a run-first, low-scoring, defense-wins game — it’s not. This is going to come down to who wants it more and who can keep drives alive.
Prediction: Indianapolis 41 — Denver 38