Broncos vs Colts: 5 Keys To Victory

The Denver Broncos will host the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. What are the keys to a Broncos victory?

The Denver Broncos will kick off their 2014 season on Sunday Night vs the Indianapolis Colts. The game will be held in Denver at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

In each of the two opening games in Peyton Manning's tenure with the team, they have emerged victorious, even routing the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens last year.

In that game, Peyton Manning notched yet another passing record, tying the all-time record for passing touchdowns in a game with 7.

This year, the Broncos face yet another tough matchup to start the season. And it comes in the form of one Andrew Luck.

We all know that Manning played 14 seasons with the Colts and as we mentioned earlier today, they remain the only team in the NFL that he has not defeated.

Manning had an opportunity to get that 32nd win last year, when the Broncos traveled to Indy in week 7. But the Sheriff couldn't get it done. It didn't help that after mounting a momentous comeback, running back Ronnie Hillman fumbled on the goal line and thus ended the Broncos hopes for a victory.

Opening game for Broncos Country is only two days away. Let's take a look at what I feel are the 5 keys to a Broncos victory over the Colts.

1- PROTECT PEYTON MANNING

This might seem like a no-brainer, but it is nonetheless a key to victory. In last year's matchup, the Colts sacked Manning 4 times, and pressured him relentlessly all game long.

However, there are two import things to note this time. One, in these two teams' last matchup, the Broncos were without their All-Pro left tackle, Ryan Clady. They lost him for the season a month earlier. Clady's replacement, Chris Clark, got dominated by Robert Mathis.

That brings us to two. Mathis will not play in Sunday night's game because he's been suspended by the league for violating their performance enhancing drug policy.

These seismic shifts at the point of attack will dramatically alter this game. Even if Mathis was active for this game, going against Ryan Clady is very different than going against Chris Clark.

I don't think the Colts will have as much success getting to Manning this time. Manning will carve the Colts' secondary up on Sunday night.

2- RUN THE BALL WITH AUTHORITY

We've been hearing all throughout the off-season, from the Broncos, the media, and the fans, that 2nd-year running back, Montee Ball, is going to explode on the NFL scene in 2014.

If that's true, then Sunday night will serve as a prime opportunity to get the Ball Train rolling. The Colts aren't the best defense against the run, and they had a difficult time tackling in the preseason.

With Orlando Franklin moving from right tackle to left guard, the Broncos now have one of the most fearsome guard duos in the NFL. Louis Vasquez, the right guard, had one of the best seasons I've ever seen from a Broncos offensive lineman last year.

He and Franklin should be able to blow open some holes for Ball and get to the second level. If the Broncos can get the running game going early and often, it'll only serve to neutralize the Colts' pass rush even more and keep them on their heels, which will also open up the play-action game.

3- PROTECT THE BALL

Last year, the Broncos turned the ball over 3 times vs the Colts. 2 fumbles and 1 interception. When you're playing a team with a Andrew Luck caliber quarterback, you can't give him extra opportunities to score, or short fields.

Guys like Ball and Ronnie Hillman will have to hold onto the rock. Without a pass rush in his face, I don't think Manning will have a problem with accuracy or bad decision-making.

Provided the Broncos play smart with the ball, I could see them really running up the score in this game.

4- CONTAIN ANDREW LUCK

On the defensive side of the ball, this will be key. Only 3 of the 11 starters on the Broncos first team defense started in the Super Bowl last February. Think about that.

By the time they got to February, the defense had been decimated by injuries. Just getting Von Miller, Rahim Moore and Chris Harris, Jr back will be a huge boon.

But the team also recruited some top-shelf defensive talent in free agency this year. DeMarcus Ware, T.J. Ward, and Aqib Talib will all impact this game in a big way.

What makes Andrew Luck so dangerous is his Aaron Rodgers-esque ability to make plays outside the pocket. The Broncos will have to be congnizant of this threat and work to contain it.

I don't care who you are, any quarterback will crack when under constant pressure. With Ware and Miller, the Broncos shouldn't have a hard time pressuring Luck from the edges.

What will be important, however, is also pressuring him from inside. Guys like Derek Wolfe, Sylvester Williams, Terrance Knighton and Malik Jackson will all have to win their battles in the trenches and get in Luck's face.

Pressure from both the outside and inside will eliminate Luck's ability to step up in the pocket. With the Colts' dearth of talent and depth on their offensive line, look for the Broncos' front seven to have a banner evening.

5- CREATE TURNOVERS

Luck is one of those quarterbacks who will make an amazing throw and then on the very next play, throw a bone-headed interception. He reminds me of a young John Elway in that sense.

Such is often the case with young quarterbacks. If the pass rush is there for the Broncos, it'll force some bad decisions by Luck.

The secondary has to be ready to take advantage of these opportunities. The Broncos will have Chris Harris, Jr back, as well as a revamped secondary.

It's time for Rahim Moore, whom the Broncos expected to be a ball hawk when they drafted him, to step up and make some interceptions. Aqib Talib has excellent ball skills, so look for him to make a big play.

T.J. Ward will be an animal in all phases of the defense. Of all the Broncos' new defensive studs, I expect Ward to be the most impactful in 2014. That begins on Sunday night.

Chad Jensen can be found on Twitter @CJ_Broncos.


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