Week Four: Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts
Location: RCA Dome Indianapolis, IN
Kick-off time: 4:15 pm EDT
For the second week in a row, the Colts will face Mike Shanahan's offense. However, this time around mike Shanahan himself will run the offense instead of Gary Kubiak, Shanahan's former assistant, now the Head Coach of the Houston Texans. The Colts return to the RCA Dome for the first time in two and a half weeks. Their last home game sent the Saints into the spiraling hell they currently are in. In a few ways, this is like another home opener. The Thursday night game was prime time, big lights, and the world watching. Now, it feels like more of a real home opener rather than an NFL opener. I'm sure Indy is happy to be back in the dome after two tough road wins in hostile environments. Though Denver, and its fans, seem to be scratching their heads about this team, that doesn't make them less dangerous. Here are the keys:
- Dwight Freeney. You can tell Dwight is annoyed. Three game in and only .5 sacks. He's been held on virtually every play by the last three teams, the New Orleans being the worst. This might be one of those games where Dwight explodes for three sacks and a couple of forced fumbles. Dwight's hungry. He's mad. He wants to do something. The funny thing about that is I think Dwight is playing some great football. He's pressuring the QB, making great tackles, and punishing ball carriers. The hard work is going to pay off, and I think it does in this game. Denver's got a good offensive line, and they like to roll their QBs on bootlegs to throw the ball. Cutler is good at this, but Dwight is one fast mofo. Dwight just might have himself a game.
- Linebackers. Folks, Travis Henry owns the Colts defense. The price tag on Gary Brackett's jersey reads, "Property of Travis Henry, da Pimp of Indianapolis." In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the mothers of all of Travis Henry's children were WIVES of Colts' defenders; he owns them that big. If you watch videos interviews with Colts players on Colts.com, they gush about Travis Henry. Kelvin Hayden called him the most under-rated back in football. Make no mistake folks, Denver picked up Henry specifically because he is so good against the Colts. Last season, he ran for 123 yards in the first game against Indy and 93 yards in the second, averaging over 4.5 yards a rush. It still boggles my mind that Buffalo actually dumped this guy in favor of Willis McGahee, a man who can barely spell the word "b-u-f-f-a-l-o" let alone find the city on a map. Last year, Colts linebackers were terrible at bringing Henry down when he played for the Titans. This year, the LB corps is better, and both KO and the boys should lay the wood on Henry. Containing him and shutting down Denver's running game is vital for a win, just like last week against Houston.
- Kick coverages. Can we please, for the love of God and sunny Jesus, cover the kicks and punts? Can Hunter Smith stop out-punting his coverages? I won't go into a Russ Purnell rant here, but this is, without question, THE weak link for the Colts. I'm on my knees, hoping, begging, pleading that this group, minus Roy Hall and maybe Clint Sessions, can do their friggin' job.