The Indianapolis Colts look to stay atop the AFC South standings when they host the Denver Broncos in a Week 8 game on Sunday. Indianapolis comes into this contest with a 4-2 record, with Houston just behind it in the AFC South with a 4-3 mark. Denver enters this game after a 10-day break following its ugly 30-6 Thursday night loss to Kansas City in Week 7.
Each of these teams came into the season with new quarterbacks. Indianapolis was surprised by the sudden retirement of Andrew Luck in the preseason but has thrived under his former backup, Jacoby Brissett. Meanwhile, the Broncos traded for Joe Flacco, looking for a veteran leader to their offense, but he and the team have struggled so far.
The moneyline for this contest has the Denver Broncos +190 and the Indianapolis Colts -230. Indianapoils is a 5.5-point favorite at home, while the over/under for the game has been set at 42.
Nowhere To Go But Up
The Broncos have struggled to score this season, averaging 16 points per game and coming off a six-point effort against Kansas City. Denver managed a total of 205 yards against the Chiefs, including just 71 on the ground. Coach Vic Fangio would prefer a ball-control offense that helps the stout Denver defense, but if the Broncos can’t run the ball, that’s not going to work very well. Phillip Lindsay has rushed for 433 yards to lead the Broncos, but he might find the road a little tougher after the Denver passing game lost a weapon when Emmanuel Sanders was traded this week.
Not surprisingly, the Broncos under Fangio — the architect of the ferocious Chicago Bears defense a year ago — rank fourth in the league in yards allowed per game with 302.6. Remarkably, the team has that ranking despite recording just 13 sacks as a team this season, with DeMarcus Walker leading the charge with four. Turnovers have also been sparse for the Broncos, with Denver tied for 26th in the league with just six.
Next Great One?
Brissett has been in the league for four seasons, spending most of his first three years as the backup behind Tom Brady and Luck. This season, he’s showing how much he was paying attention in those years, throwing for 1,388 yards and 14 touchdowns to just three interceptions. Brissett is coming off a career day against Houston, setting new personal standards with 326 yards and four touchdowns. Wide receiver Zach Pascal had a big game against the Texans as well, matching a career high with six receptions for a career-best 106 yards and two touchdowns.
The Colts’ defense isn’t get the headlines like some other defenses across the league, but Indianapolis has been playing well on that side of the ball. Defensive end Justin Houston has made an impact in his first season with the Colts, leading the team with four sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss. Turnovers are also a rare occurence for the Indianapolis defense, as they have just seven on the season.
Colts Stay In First
Denver has really struggled offensively this season, and it will find the going tough against the Colts defense. Meanwhile, Brissett is really finding his way as a starting quarterback, as Indianapolis has been getting healthy and becoming an explosive unit. Look for another big game from the Colts in this one. I’m taking Indianapolis -5.5 to get the win.