Posted Thu Jan 3rd by Monty
Streak: Won 2
All-time vs. Denver: 8-11
Last time: Colts, 27-13, Sep. 2010
The Line: N/A. Wild Card: Baltimore (home) is favored by 6.5
Today we’re taking a first look at the three teams that could come to Denver to face the Broncos in the Divisional Round of the playoffs on January 12th — the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts, and Baltimore Ravens. Next up: Indy.
This is the game the NFL wants. Peyton Manning vs. his former team. The matchup is television drama gold, only made more tantalizing by the journey the Colts are currently on.
The Indianapolis Colts are the feel-good story of the NFL this season following head coach Chuck Pagano‘s return to the sideline last week after leukemia treatment. But before he sends his players against their former field leader in Manning, he’ll need to conquer familiar faces of his own — the Baltimore Ravens, invigorated by Ray Lewis‘ return. These teams know each other.
Who’s hot: Head coach Chuck Pagano. This isn’t lip service — Pagano’s battle with leukemia, and the victory he displayed by being on the sideline last week, is the emotional driving force behind the Colts’ mission this year — win the Super Bowl. The story is invigorating to Colts players, Colts fans, and fans of the NFL in general, and a huge X-factor heading into this game. “I can’t explain it,” Pagano said. “Maybe those guys (Colts players) can explain it.”
“It’s like you’re on fire,” CB Vontae Davis said.
Who’s not: Colts defense. The Colts rank in the bottom third of the league in every defensive category. They’re 21st in points allowed and 29th in rush defense. Playing the Texans twice in the season’s last three weeks, running back Arian Foster ran for 261 yards in two games, while Jamaal Charles ran for 226 yards in one game in between. The Colts manage to win two of these games, but it’s clear they’re susceptible to a strong running attack and a strong offense in general.
Matchup to Watch: Broncos pass rush vs. Andrew Luck. Luck has the passing yards (4,374), the touchdowns (23), and the wins (11) to be listed as one of the most impressive rookie quarterbacks of all time. But his completion percentage is low (54.1%), he has 18 interceptions on the year, and he still has decision issues when in the pocket. Those issues have led him to be sacked 41 times in 2011, a situation that will have Broncos Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil twitching for a week in excitement.
How they come to Denver — The Colts would have to beat the Ravens in Baltimore, and the Texans would have to beat the Bengals in Houston.
How would you feel about a Colts-Broncos matchup? Anything about that potential matchup worth pointing out that I didn’t? Hit it in the comments.