The Denver Broncos face a short turnaround in Week 5, as they have to host the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday Night Football.

Which matchups should Broncos Country have a close eye on, with the mindset that they could ultimately determine the game, or maybe even the season? Let’s take a look.

Indianapolis Colts’ rushing attack vs. Denver Broncos’ run defense

Up until last week, the Denver Broncos had one of the NFL’s best defenses against the run, as they ranked sixth in rushing yardage allowed through the first three games of the season.

That wasn’t just the result of teams staying away from the run either. In advanced rate metrics like both DVOA and EPA, the Broncos’ run defense ranked eighth. It was a seemingly stout unit.

However, the defense’s meltdown in Las Vegas, in which they allowed the Raiders to garner over 200 yards on the ground, more than 140 of which was accumulated by Josh Jacobs on his way to setting a new career-high, has changed their perceived standing.

The Denver Broncos’ run defense now ranks 17th in EPA and 20th in DVOA.

They’re not the only ones limping into this matchup though, as the Indianapolis Colts’ rushing attack has been tremendously disappointing this season. So far, the Colts rank 27th in rushing yards, 18th in run-block win rate, 28th in rushing EPA, and 32nd in rushing EPA.

This rushing attack that was supposed to be the backbone of the Colts’ attack has been moribund all season long, and is now going to be without Jonathan Taylor, the most valuable and special runner in the sport.

It’d be pretty concerning if the Broncos’ Darkside Defense didn’t get back on track here.

Advantage: Denver Broncos

Denver Broncos’ rushing attack vs. Indianapolis Colts’ run defense

The inverse of the aforementioned battle will also be one for Broncos Country to monitor, considering the cyclone of concern swirling around Denver’s ground game.

The unit has been fine through the first four weeks of the season, but now, they’re without their difference-making running back. Not only that, but they’ll now have to turn to Melvin Gordon to lead the way, as he’s experiencing an extreme case of fumble-itis.

Over his last 10 touches, Melvin Gordon has fumbled the ball three times, and each of those had the potential to cost the Broncos a victory. The fact only one of those fumbles was recovered by the opposition is why Denver is 1-1 over the last two games, instead of 0-2.

Now, the Broncos’ rushing attack rests on his shoulders.

That is going to be a tall order, especially considering how fierce the Colts’ run defense has been, spearheaded by DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart, who is maybe the most underrated defensive lineman in football.

Indianapolis currently ranks sixth in rushing yardage allowed, second in run-defense DVOA (behind only San Francisco), and seventh in run-defense EPA.

Time for the Russell Wilson Show.

Advantage: Indianapolis Colts

Broncos’ pass rush vs. Colts’ offensive line

Randy Gregory had been a force of nature for the Denver Broncos this season.

Per Pro Football Focus, Gregory currently ranks fifth in pressures (19), second in pressure rate (21.59%) and fourth in pass-rush win rate (24.7%) among all NFL defenders that have rushed the passer at least 25 times so far this season.

That’s All-Pro caliber production, and it’s going to be difficult for Baron Browning to fill that void. Browning is still very underdeveloped rushing off the edge, and although he has every athletic tool you’d ever covet, he has very little technical refinement to pair with it. Now, it’s still getting the job done (as he boasts a pass-rush win rate of 20.5%, good for 16th-best in that aforementioned sample size (for the sake of context, Von Miller currently ranks 12th on the season, and Bradley Chubb currently ranks 46th)).

Fortunately, he’s facing Matt Ryan, arguably the NFL’s least mobile quarterback, who happens to be playing behind one of the NFL’s most porous offensive lines.

The Indianapolis Colts currently rank 26th in pass-block win rate, so the stage could be set perfectly for Baron Browning to make an electrifying debut at his newfound position.

Advantage: Denver Broncos