Andrew Luck, one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, has had unprecedented success against the Denver Broncos. Including the playoffs, since the start of the 2013 season, the first time the Broncos faced Luck, the Broncos have gone a combined 43-13. However, the Broncos have not fared as well against the Indianapolis Colts, only going 1-3 and losing their last two contests.

The most logical reason for the Colts’ success would be their best player, Luck. But there’s another factor that has played a determining role: the clock.

“It all depends on the run game,” linebacker Corey Nelson said on Friday. “That’s what it all boils down to, the run game.”

Against logical thought, Luck’s final stat line has had very little correlation on the success of his team in the four games against the Broncos. In fact, in Luck’s biggest statistical performance — 35-of-53 for 370 yards and three touchdowns (two passing and one rushing) — the Colts actually lost.

Compare that to the three games where the Colts beat the Broncos, Luck actually didn’t have as impressive of a stat line, averaging 248 yards and just over two touchdowns in those three games.

In the four previous matchups the team that has had more rushing yards has also had more time of possession. In all four of these instances, the team with more rushing yards and time of possession has ended up winning the game.

“If you run the ball well, you have a higher chance of winning,” Nelson said.

While that seems like an obvious statement from Nelson, the fact that the passing game hasn’t had an impact in determining the winner of the Broncos-Colts matchups really puts even more of an emphasis on the importance of the running game. Nelson added that time of possession will matter the most in a close game.

“If it’s 21-17 in the fourth quarter with two minutes left, then (time of possession will) make a difference,” Nelson said.

This formula for beating the Colts not only held true in the four previous matchups with the Broncos, but as well as in the Colts’ loss in week 1 against the Detroit Lions. In that game the Lions had more time of possession (30:36 to 29:24) and more rushing yards than the Colts (116 to 82). Even though Luck had a career day through the air — 385 yards with four touchdowns and a 119.5 rating — the Colts were not able to overcome the differences in time of possession or running the ball.

Devontae Booker, Broncos rookie running back, said on Friday that it was, “most definitely” more important to run well to keep the ball out of an elite quarterbacks hand, like Luck.

Although everyone outside the Broncos locker room is focused on one of the elite quarterbacks in the game, Luck, the recipe for a Broncos win on Sunday may very well have little to do with Luck. Fortunately, the Broncos are well aware of this.