Don’t worry, Broncos will buck Luck
Too often, too much is made of too little.
To wit, two tidbits: With Andrew Luck at quarterback, the Indianapolis Colts are 3-1 against the Denver Broncos. The Colts have won eight of the past nine against Denver.
The tide will change … today.
Yes, Luck is fresh off a 368-yard passing performance against the Detroit Lions. But the Colts lost, 39-35, at home no less.
Hence, the “no worries” sign goes up for Denver, a team that has had more than a week to prepare for this one because of the narrow 21-20 win over that very good Carolina Panther team on Sept. 8 — two Thursdays ago.
Yes, Luck is quick on the draw and, yes, he’s big (6-foot-4, 240 pounds) and quick enough to scramble when needed. Last season in Week 9 against Denver, he helped the Colts to a 17-0 lead in the first half, finishing 21 of 36 for 252 yards on the way to a 27-24 win.
But somewhere not so far in the back of Luck’s mind, he’ll remember a hit — actually 11 hits that were applied to him when he last played against the Broncos defense. The sum total of those hits was a lacerated kidney that kept him out the rest of the season.
Denver defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will have spent the better part of 10 days of preparation time trying to conjure up methods of applying plenty of pressure to Luck.
Yes, the Broncos will send Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware and Shaq Barrett and Shane Ray and a host of others — repeatedly.
That, however, is not the primary reason Denver wins this one.
Welcome to the big time, Trevor Siemian. Denver’s temporary — might it be longer than that? — savior steps up today in a big way.
In Week 1 against Carolina, Siemian was OK. Not bad. Not good. But OK.
Siemian threw for 178 yards, going 18 of 26 with two INTs and one TD pass. He was sacked twice, but mostly stayed out of the way of a deep Carolina front seven.
Today, there is every reason to think he will stand the Colts on their collective ear.
Last week in Indy, Matt Stafford, Detroit’s decent veteran quarterback, completed 31 of 39 passes against the Colts for 332 yards. He threw three touchdowns, was sacked only once and was seldom threatened.
The Colts have no pass rush.
Going down the same path, they are also in deep trouble in the secondary.
Star corner Vontae Davis did not play in Week 1 and is questionable today with an ankle injury. He was limited in practice late week with a brace on his ankle. His replacement, Antonio Cromartie, was limited in practice with a hamstring injury. And the other starting corner, Patrick Robinson, suffered a concussion and hadn’t passed the concussion protocol or practiced as the week wound down.
Add to that the status of starting safety Clayton Gaethers, questionable with a foot injury, and his backup, T.J. Green, doubtful with a knee injury.
To make a long story short, the Colts are looking for warm bodies in the secondary.
And Siemian and the Bronco coaching staff, politically incorrectly, of course, salivate.
This is not to say the Broncos will be passing on every offensive play. Of course not.
Denver will run the ball because that is what they are to become — a team that will run the ball up the gut, then fake the handoff and throw play-action passes. The Broncos today and the rest of this season, maybe the next decade, will try for a 50-50 run-pass split.
Denver will run the ball plenty today because Detroit didn’t just pass the ball, they also ran it well in their win over the Colts, 24 rushes for 116 yards, a 4.8 average.
The Broncos, being Gary Kubiak’s team, will run because Siemian isn’t yet to the Matt Stafford point in his career, not after one game. Siemian won’t throw the ball 38 times in this game as Stafford did last week because he won’t have to.
With a little help from his friends — an improved offensive line in front of running back C.J. Anderson and newfound fullback/bodyguard Andy Janovich (one long touchdown run and roughly 25 nasty blocks) – Siemian will move the Broncos.
Siemian’s second NFL start will be better than his first, let’s say 20 of 32 for 230 yards and two TDs. That should be plenty.
Denver will be too much. Broncos 31, Colts 21.
That will make it (pick one): Denver too and zip; Denver to and oh; Denver two and nothing; or Denver 2-0 — any of which will have the Broncos in their rightful spot on top in the AFC West, although it will likely be with several others.