GAME PLAN: The Broncos have to get pressure on Peyton Manning without blitzing, and their secondary has to hold up in coverage. They actually have the personnel to accomplish both of those goals. Elvis Dumervil, who leads the NFL in sacks, has to have a big week for Denver. The Broncos have allowed only one 40-yard pass play this year, the fewest in the NFL, so Manning might not be able to get a bunch of quick strikes against them.
Offensively, the Broncos' run game is coming alive at the right time. Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter will have to grind out yards to keep drives alive and keep Manning off the field. Denver can also spread the field and try to get mismatches against Indianapolis' young cornerbacks, but the line will have to give Kyle Orton time to throw.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Broncos RT Tyler Polumbus vs. Colts LDE Robert Mathis. This isn't a good week for the Broncos to lose right tackle Ryan Harris for the season. Mathis is a pass-rush specialist and will test the inexperienced Polumbus. The Broncos will likely have to help Polumbus with a tight end or running back, which will limit Kyle Orton's options when he drops back to throw.
Broncos CB Champ Bailey vs. Colts WR Reggie Wayne. This is a premier matchup, especially with Bailey playing well. He limited Chiefs receiver Chris Chambers to 11 yards last week. Bailey has been shadowing the opponent's best receiver the past few weeks, so he'll draw Wayne in coverage. While Manning respects Bailey, he won't ignore his side of the field, either, which will give Bailey a chance to make some plays.
Broncos S Brian Dawkins vs. Colts TE Dallas Clark. Dawkins is a gamer, usually playing through nagging injuries. The good news is he is able to practice this week, because the Broncos need him close to full speed against Clark. The Colts won't have a distinct mismatch against any of Denver's cornerbacks, so Clark could be featured.
INJURY IMPACT: S David Bruton sat out practice on Wednesday with a thigh injury. His status will be determined later this week. S Brian Dawkins was a full participant in practice Wednesday. He sat out most of last week because of an ankle injury, but played on Sunday.
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