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Colts at Broncos: Preview and Picks

Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos (-3.5) (o/u 42)

WhenThursday, October 6th, 8:15 pm EST
WhereEmpower Field at Mile High

Denver, CO

How to WatchAmazon Prime

Odds courtesy of DraftKings as of 10/6.

How We Learned to Love the Denver Broncos

We’re here to bring you more porous analysis with cherry-picked statistics to offer sketchy picks for the Thursday Night Football game between the Indianapolis Colts (1-3) and the Denver Broncos (2-2). Sit back and enjoy a game feed that lags three minutes behind real time while you pray the dog doesn’t jostle the Amazon Fire Stick loose and you’re stuck watching reruns of Two and a Half Men on FX. 

A word on one of our analysts: The Godzilla (my father, who was fired from CNN) hates when he’s forced to watch an AFC South team that isn’t from Nashville. He hates the Colts most of all. He’s mad the Colts had Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck while the Titans had Kerry Collins and Vince Young. He’s mad because the Colts won a Super Bowl while the Titans continue to lose in the playoffs to everyone. He will stake an erroneous claim that somehow the media loves Indianapolis (not true) and that the Colts are always overrated (not true). He’ll pick the Broncos to cover and, while that might pan out, he’ll do it for all the wrong reasons. Let go of your hatred, Godzilla. The Colts are going to go 5-12.

The Denver Broncos Defensive Quandary

Jack:  You can read my Week 5 injury report here, where I break down the Colts’ injuries on defense.

The Colts are a defense that ranks near the middle of the pack in almost every category. They are, at best, average and you can expect this to trend downward as they’ve lost some major players on defense for this game. They are also near the bottom in forcing turnovers (more on this later).

The Broncos defense is elite. Football Outsiders has the Broncos in the top five for DVOA on defense. Lineups ranks the Broncos defense as fifth in points allowed, fourth in touchdowns allowed, third in passing yardage allowed, second in passing touchdowns allowed. They are first in the league in red zone touchdowns allowed. They’re good. 

The only thing the Broncos defense struggles with is rushing yardage and rushing TDs. This would normally cause a match up problem with the Colts, who have traditionally leaned on an incredible offensive line and Jonathan Taylor’s legs to win games. Run or pass, the Colts offensive line is a mess this year. They are 27th in rushing yards, 29th in rushing touchdowns, and 29th in sacks allowed. The Broncos have recorded 11 sacks this year. That ranks in the top 10.

This is going to be a long night for the Colts. The most important stat for a team that’s 1-3 is turnovers. The Colts are at the bottom of the league with nine turnovers. They fumble the ball way too much. The Broncos don’t force a ton of turnovers, but look for them to force a fumble, wreak havoc on Indy’s O-line, and wait for Matt Ryan to make some bad decisions. Lay the points and hope Russell Wilson doesn’t screw this up. Pick: Denver Broncos -3.5.

Under Mania

Nate: I’m pretty much on the same page as Jack on this one. The Colts are just terrible offensively and have lost their best weapon. I have a hard time seeing how this helps anything. Meanwhile, Matt Ryan looks like a guy who should’ve thought harder about retiring.

The Denver Broncos defense is good, and the Colts defense is decent. Defense is a sort of, uh, we’ll call it “relative strength” for each team, and it is the best unit for both squads. Typically, on Thursday night games, my first look is at the under, as teams tend to come out a little slow with a vanilla playbook on short weeks.

In a game where both offenses have lost playmakers and the defenses are the best units on the field, I’ll take that angle again. Pick: Under 42.

Never Take the Colts

John: Who in their right mind can bet the Colts after their horror show at home last week? And now you take Jonathan Taylor out of the equation? 

Look, this is pretty simple: Matt Ryan is done. He’ can’t get out of the pocket, and he’s fumbling the ball on sacks at an alarming rate. The Titans stacked eight in the box last week and stuffed their run game, holding Taylor to a bread stick and water while building a 24-3 lead before spitting the bit again in the second half.

The Colts defense is pedestrian. Tanne-GOAT sliced them up like a Sunday ham in the first half. Denver is a hard team to figure out. We know their defense is something special. We know they are extra tough at Mile High. They’re 2-0 at home and I’ll take the home cooking in the mountains.

I’m really betting against the Colts more than I am betting on the Broncos. Pick: Denver Broncos -3.5

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