Week 14 is upon us, and the Colts take on my hometown team, the Broncos this Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. I want to start by looking at the (recent) history with the Broncos, and the almost complete domination by Peyton Manning and the Colts:
- Throwing out the meaningless Week 17 game in 2004, the Broncos have beaten the Colts once in 7 games since 2002. I remember that game well too, as I was in the 14th row. Brackett had a Pick-6 in the first quarter, and it was all downhill from there. It was one of the rare games Manning and the Colts just forgot to show up (like the Packers game last season).
- Two of the Colt wins came in the playoffs, and they were two of Manning's greatest games ever: 2003 where Manning won his first career playoff game with a Perfect Passer Rating, and a year later when the Colts were up 35-3 at half, and Manning had 361 passing in the first half.
- The last matchup between the two teams was in 2007, a 38-20 win by the Colts. Former Bronco head coach Mike Shanahan decided he couldn't beat the Colts with his starters, so he benched them. BBS says it better than me:
Mike Shanahan was so terrified by what Manning would do to it that he junked his entire defensive scheme for the 2007 regular season game against the Colts and deployed a specific scheme just to beat Indy. He benched his starting DTs, inserted smaller but faster DTs, and hoped they'd be able to keep up with Indy's No-Huddle offense.
Enough about the history, let's get to 2009...
Here are the Adjusted Stats for the 2009 season for each team:
|Avg Start Pos||30.0||20||28.6||9||29.2||26||29.0||11|
|3 and Outs||2.35||1||3.51||21||3.61||13||3.68||20|
|Penalty Yds / Play||0.611||2||0.895||8||0.750||11||0.697||28|
|Net Punts Yds/Game||37.70||21||41.01||26||40.15||9||37.95||9|
My keys to the game:
- The Colts offense and the Broncos defense are both in the Top 5 of Drive Success Rate and Adjusted Net Passing Yards / Attempt, making these two stats critical to victory. Whichever side comes out on top of these two stats should win the game. On the flip side of these two stats, the Colts defense is better than the Broncos offense, especially in ANPY/A. This needs to continue for a Colts victory.
- Both defenses are below average at Time of Possession / Drive, so expect time-consuming drives. The Colts offense is best in the NFL at 3 and outs, averaging just over 2 / game. The Colts defense and Broncos offense have almost exactly the same number, so expect 3.5 Three and Outs.
- The Colts defense hasn't been that great at stopping 3rd/4th down conversions this season, but the Broncos offense has been equally as bad at converting them. If they can't convert 3rd/4th downs, the Broncos won't win.
- Lastly, it is Red Zone Efficiency. The Colts, both offensively and defensively, have been great this year inside the 20 yard line. The Broncos have done well on defense, but their offense is 3rd worst in the league. If the Broncos leave points on the field, they won't keep up with the Colts. It's been the story of quite a few Colts games this season. Expect it to be one again today.
Prediction? Colts 28, Broncos 16.