Peyton Manning does not get sacked even once.
The Indianapolis Colts are without their leading sack artist, Robert Mathis. When the Denver Broncos and Colts played last year, Mathis caused all kinds of disruption for Manning. After Mathis though, the player with the most sacks had only six. The Broncos have Ryan Clady back on the offensive line, Orlando Franklin at a new position and Chris Clark starting at right tackle. Manning was one of the least sacked quarterbacks without Clady last year, having him back should help even more.
Montee Ball will break out with a 100+ yard rushing game and two total touchdowns.
When Peyton Manning is the quarterback, you can’t load the defense with eight men in the box. Montee Ball is a tough runner that should punish the defenses without eight men in the box. It will become a pick your poison situation in Denver, load the box with eight and have Manning pick you apart, or keep seven, or less, in the box and have Ball run all over. Ball also will showcase his hands and catch a touchdown.
Emmanuel Sanders is the top receiver with over 200 yards and two touchdowns.
Sanders is a burner that can take the top off the defense. Look for Manning to target Sanders often. With Demaryius Thomas matched up on Vontae Davis, one of the few cornerbacks to effectively shut him down last year, Sanders should be all over the place. He is shifty and agile enough to take a short pass, and go the distance with it.
Cody Latimer won’t be the top player to step in for Wes Welker.
With Wes Welker suspended, everyone jumped aboard the Cody Latimer train. Well, you shouldn’t. Latimer has shown a lot of potential, but he is still a rookie in one of the most complicated offenses in the NFL. He will see time, but won’t be the replacement. Instead, look to what Denver did last year when Welker was out. They went to Eric Decker and Jacob Tamme. Decker is gone, as everyone should know by now, but Tamme is still around. Tamme has the chemistry with Manning and is reliable. Another option that can be seen is Andre Caldwell. Caldwell is more effective as an outside receiver, but don’t be surprised to see him, or even Sanders with Caldwell outside, lined up in the slot. There won’t be just one player to step in, it will be a group of players used, all depending on the situation the Broncos are in.
Von Miller leads the Broncos with four sacks.
Von Miller is healthy and ready to go. He lines up facing the right tackle, who is Gosder Cherilus for the Colts. Cherilus is a solid tackle, but he is nothing special. With having sack artist DeMarcus Ware on the other side, also shifts the focus. Cherilus had one of his best games against Denver last year, when he faced an overweight Von Miller. This year will be different for Cherilus. Miller is no longer overweight. He is back to where he was two years ago, and it shows on his limited preseason snaps. His explosiveness off the snap is back and he looks quicker than has ever before.
Bradley Roby gets the first interception of the season and it ends up being a pick-six.
With the pressure that should face Andrew Luck, some mistakes will be forced. The first one will go to Bradley Roby, who will step in as the #3 cornerback. In these situations, Chris Harris will take the slot cornerback and Roby play opposite Talib, outside. Roby has the ball skills and athleticism to be aggressive in coverage. Roby has the opportunity as the #3 cornerback since Kayvon Webster has been demoted, Roby will take advantage of it.
Brandon McManus hits two field goals from 50+.
It is somewhat amazing how people are in a tizzy about a kicker missing two field goals from long range. Not every kicker is Matt Prater. In fact, most kickers don’t have the leg to have a chance at a 50+ yard field goal. That isn’t the case with McManus. He has the leg, it is accuracy in question. Everyone needs to remember, there was a lot of “new” around McManus. He had a new holder, on a new team, new long snapper, everything was new to him. Chemistry is needed between the holder and the kicker. McManus and Britton Colquitt have had a lot of time together, with that McManus shows he can hit those long field goals.
Bold Prediction: The Broncos sack Andrew Luck nine times.
The Colts offensive line is a mess, especially their interior. Terrance Knighton and Sylvester Williams should have an easy time causing interior pressure, especially with Derek Wolfe or Malik Jackson out there as well. That opens up the opportunities for Ware and Miller off the edge. The Broncos secondary will have to take away the quick passes to give the rush time. They will be all over Luck and keep contain, forcing mistakes, or sacks. To top it all off, the Broncos have plenty of players they can bring on a blitz, Nate Irving and T.J. Ward are at the top of that list.
Bold Prediction: The Broncos defense forces four turnovers.
Getting pressure on the quarterback, in this case Andrew Luck, often leads to mistakes. It's expected. Luck should be in trouble from the start with the pressure, which should lead to mistakes. Not only does Roby pick him off for a pick-six, he throws another interception. On top of that, the Broncos force a receiver to fumble and Trent Richardson, who has six fumbles in his career, to put the ball, for a seventh time, on the ground.
Bold Prediction: The Broncos hold the Colts to under 50 yards rushing.
One thing that is vastly underrated with the Broncos defense is their ability to stop the run. They have some great run defenders in the front seven. Then they have a secondary filled with players that are not afraid to come up and help in run support. The Broncos make the Colts a one dimensional team, and capitalize off of that, before they make it so the Colts have to play catch up.
Score Prediction: Colts 17 Broncos 48
Quite the prediction. Everyone remember last year? The Broncos put it to the Baltimore Ravens, and not one expected that. At the very least a close game was expected, but the Broncos had another thing on their mind. Revenge. They wanted to go out there and walk over the Ravens. They did. This year they have two things that are on the Broncos minds. One is revenge. They want to put it to the Colts and get Peyton Manning a win against his former team in his new home. The second one is, 35. If you haven’t heard 35 has become the mantra around the Broncos. They want to show everyone that they are not that same team to get blown out in the SuperBowl. They are on a mission and it starts with the Colts.
Erick Trickel can be found on Twitter @AlaskanBronco.