By Phil Clark

peyton-manningWith Peyton Manning playing in Indianapolis for the first time since becoming a member of the Denver Broncos, how could any other game the NFL be game of the week?

The one thing that Jim Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts, should have thought about before he stupidly opened his mouth this week on the subject of Manning and his time with the Colts was how his comments were going to be interpreted by the Broncos and more specifically, by Manning.

I’m not implying that Irsay’s comments will provide the Broncos with that needed spark to beat the Colts as they don’t need such a spark. What I am implying is that these comments, coming on the week of Manning’s return to Indianapolis after having so much success there, could be interpreted (like I have interpreted them) as words from someone ungrateful for what he was given by Manning. What this can do for the Broncos and/or Manning is give them a little extra motivation heading into the game, and that could end up being huge.

Manning returns to the site of some of his greatest moments & triumphs with a Broncos team that has gotten people talking about everything from rewriting the record books to lifting the Vince Lombardi Trophy, and we’re only in mid-October. The Colts meet Manning in his old stomping grounds with a team that is worthy of competing with the Broncos. The added bonus to this whole thing will not only be Manning returning to his old home stadium, but the sight of Peyton Manning versus the next Peyton Manning.

Andrew Luck has had the expectations and pressure of becoming the next Manning from about a year before he was drafted by the Colts. During his senior year with the Stanford Cardinal, the comparisons were being thrown out by football writers, bloggers, and viewers. Those comparisons have only continued to live because of how easily Luck transitioned from the college to pro level with a tremendous rookie season last year. Despite already playing in a playoff game and making a less-than-spectacular Monday Night Football debut last week, this is without a doubt the biggest game of Luck’s young career.

While the Colts had plenty of trouble getting their offense going last week, I view that more as an example of a rough schedule finally getting the better of them. However, it’s always disturbing for a team to having issues on offense the game before a big one like tonight’s.

The most interesting part of this game is how opposite both team’s defenses are. The Broncos enter with a defense that is first in the NFL in rushing yards allowed and last in passing yards allowed. On the other hand, the Colts are second last in rushing yards allowed and fifth in passing yards allowed.

The Broncos’ running game has outperformed the Colts’ so far this season, though the Colts have already had to rebuild their running attack after losing Vick Ballard and then Ahmad Bradshaw to injuries. Despite all of this, if the Colts can’t run the ball at all and put everything on Luck keeping up with Manning through the air, it’s going to be a very long game for the Colts.

On the other hand, the Broncos may want to take advantage of the kind of defense they are facing and try to work running more into this game. Everything seems perfect for Manning to go crazy as it’s a game in a dome, it’s Manning’s return game against his old team, and the Broncos’ offense has been off the charts to start this season; I know all of this. However, if you’re facing a team with such a poor rush offense and if you have a good rushing attack (like the Broncos have), wouldn’t you feel like evening up the number of passing and rushing plays you execute against this team?

I do believe the Colts will get their spark back not only because of the scenario surrounding this game, but because a chance to take down the undisputed king of pro football for the first half of this season could be a season-changing win for the Colts, should they get it.

The Colts will play close for a lot of this game, but they will run into the same problem that has plagued each of the Broncos’ opponents so far this season: the Broncos’ offense has too many weapons and too much stamina. Manning doesn’t seem to tire, there are too many receivers and backs that Manning can throw to, and no defense has come close to solving this riddle yet.

Even at home, the Colts won’t have the necessary answers in the fourth quarter and later in the third. This will allow the Broncos to ease past another opponent, though the game will be close in a fashion similar to the Broncos’ recent win over the Dallas Cowboys. The differences are that this game won’t be as wild & crazy, nor have as much scoring or a climactic finish.

My Prediction: Denver (-6) 38, Indianapolis 31

2013 Season
Straight Up: 5-1
ATS: 5-1

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Phil Clark

Born in Muskego, Wisconsin, Phil attended UWM and graduated with a bachelor's degree in Creative Writing. A fan of football his entire life, he began writing about football for Inside Pulse in 2007. Since then, he has written for several different sites while writing about football, mixed martial arts, boxing, basketball, and pro wrestling.

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