The Denver Broncos will host the Indianapolis Colts tonight on Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime. If they’re going to beat the Colts, Patrick Surtain and the defense must pick apart Matt Ryan, keep Russell Wilson upright, and capitalize on good special teams play.

Denver Broncos defense must pick apart Matt Ryan

Russell Wilson isn’t the only new quarterback on a new team this season. The Indianapolis Colts traded for former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan this offseason, and they’ve struggled to get off to a strong start.

The Broncos defense has been their strongest feature yet so far this season and they will need to continue to make Ryan’s presence in the pocket more difficult.

Entering Week 5, Ryan has thrown 5 interceptions and has fumbled the football a total of 9 times this season. Inconsistency along the Colts offensive line has been a contributing factor as Ryan has struggled with his new team.

Patrick Surtain will likely draw the matchup assignment on Colts receiver Michael Pittman Jr. which will be a huge key to victory. Surtain’s coverage this season has been vacuum-sealed on opposing wideouts, and tight coverage helps with the pass rush getting home.

Ryan has been sacked a total of 15 times in 2022 which has accounted for over 117 yards lost. On the flip side, the Broncos defense has had success getting after opposing quarterbacks this season, tallying 11 sacks through four games which is currently tied for 5th in the NFL.

After Randy Gregory’s knee injury landed him on short-term injured reserve this week, edge rusher Bradley Chubb and Baron Browning will get the start on the outside, but rookie second-round draft pick Nik Bonitto will likely see an increase in snaps.

However, aside from flustering Ryan on Thursday Night Football, Denver must be more consistent in stopping the run after allowing the Las Vegas Raiders to amass 212 yards on the ground in Sunday’s loss.

Keeping Russell Wilson upright is key for continuity

One of the Broncos most significant issues on offense this season has been long-field situations. Whether the Broncos have gone backward while trying to run the football, accumulating penalties, or opposing teams sacking Russell Wilson, they’ll have to avoid these issues against the Colts.

Through four games, Wilson has been sacked 12 times which has accounted for 75 yards lost offensively this season. The Colts defense has gotten after opposing quarterbacks a total of 7 times this season with Kwity Paye leading the charge with 3 sacks.

Not only will the Broncos have to account for Paye, but they’ll also have to find ways to prohibit DeForest Buckner and Yannik Ngakoue from disrupting the flow on offense. Denver has previous familiarity going against Ngakoue who was a member of the Las Vegas Raiders in 2021.

Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett believes that the offense needs to be more consistent regarding field position.

It’s one of those things—you are obviously always trying to stay in front of the chains as an offensive play caller and as the guy’s going through all the plays,” Hackett said Monday. “You’re right, it’s not just one thing, whether it be maybe a missed throw, a missed drop, a missed block or something like that. We just have to be more consistent. I think that’s the most important thing is that everybody understands their role, their job and execute to a high level so that we can continue to move the ball forward so that we have manual third down. But I look at it more as, even when we’re getting into those manageable third downs, we still didn’t convert those. It’s a combination of both, especially there in that third quarter.”

The room for error as the season progresses becomes more minuscule. Can the Denver Broncos overcome these issues tonight?

Broncos must capitalize on great special teams play

The Broncos have benefitted from strong special teams play throughout the past two weeks despite missing key players like Tyrie Cleveland due to injury.

They’ll be without P.J. Locke and Aaron Patrick, two key special teams contributors, who are out tonight with concussions.

In the Broncos Week 4 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, rookie punt returner and wide receiver Montrell Washington was a bright spot and could be the X-factor on Thursday against the Colts. In Week 4, Washington had three punt returns for a total of 66 yards, with an average of 22.0 yards per return and a game-high of 30.

Washington’s performance put the Broncos past midfield on one possession and at midfield on his two other returns. Denver was only able to capitalize on one of his returns that led to points scored.

Broncos special teams coordinator Dwayne Stukes reflected on Montrell’s performance as a complete unit effort this past Sunday.

“I thought he was confident, I thought he executed returns at a high level, but I also thought the other 10 guys did a great job blocking for him,” Stukes said during his Tuesday press conference.” I don’t think Montrell can return a ball versus 11 people [by himself]. So I thought that the guys took pride in knowing they have a guy that is an explosive returner and they strained for an extra half a second to block for him.”

There were several instances dating back to the preseason where Washington has come close to breaking one for a touchdown.

Bold prediction: Montrell accounts for a punt return touchdown tonight against the Colts.

Special teams has been special so far for Denver this season, can they build on it?

The Denver Broncos (2-2) will kick off tonight against the Indianapolis Colts (1-2-1) on Thursday Night Football at 6:15 p.m. MT on Amazon Prime or locally on Denver7.