The Denver Broncos’ humiliating home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and Matt Moore put the team in a scary situation.
A loss to the Indianapolis Colts will plunge the team to 2-6 and directly towards a fire sale of the roster, and the matchup won’t be an easy one.
In the Colts’ last two games they went into Arrowhead to beat the Chiefs and took the lead spot in the division with a home win against the Houston Texans.
How can the Broncos slow down this red-hot Colts squad? Let’s take a look:
Ground game must bounce back
The Broncos’ run game has to play better than it did against the Chiefs in order to beat the Colts.
Last week, against the league’s worst run defense, the Broncos gained just 71 yards on the ground and were held under 50 until halfway through the fourth quarter. That’s embarrassing, especially considering that in the four games prior, the Chiefs had allowed teams to gain 190 rushing yards per game.
Kansas City’s gameplan was to overload the offensive line with rushers to shut down the run game and then blitz the passer and it worked perfectly against the atrocious Denver line.
It’s a formula that should be easily replicated against the Broncos, that is unless the Broncos rushing attack starts churning again, which it will certainly have the chance to against the Colts. Indy’s defense ranks 19th in rush yards allowed per game, 26th in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA metric and 28th and 30th in tackling and run defense respectively according to Pro Football Focus.
Denver’s defense is an elite, lockdown unit
After a slow start to the season, the Broncos’ defense has been one of the league’s most elite units, and it should be able to keep the game with Indy close at the very least.
The Broncos rank fifth in defensive DVOA, behind only the Patriots, 49ers, Panthers and Rams. PFF ranks them third in total defense, first in run defense and third in coverage.
Old-age stats love the Denver defense too, as they rank fourth in yards per game allowed, eighth in points per game allowed and are one of just three teams to hold opposing offenses to fewer than 200 passing yards per game.
They’ll need to be a lockdown unit on Sunday to help their team win. In games where Indianapolis was held under 25 points, they’re 2-2. In games where they score 25 points or more, they’re undefeated.
Offense can’t keep letting defense down
There’s no doubt around this team that the Broncos’ defense will hold up its end of the bargain and do its job, but there’s plenty of doubt the Denver offense will do the same.
The only difference between the undefeated Patriots and 49ers and the 2-5 Broncos has been the offense.
The three teams consistently rank towards the top of the league in every key defensive stat, but where New England and San Francisco rank in the middle of the pack offensively, the Broncos are towards the very bottom of the league.
DVOA ranks the Broncos as the league’s 24th best offense, right behind the Bills and Steelers with Devlin Hodges at quarterback. That’s unacceptable and will have to turn around quickly if the Broncos want to beat the Colts and salvage their season.