The Indianapolis Colts will try to maintain their lead atop the AFC South as they play host to the Denver Broncos in Week 8. Kickoff is set for 1:00 EST on Sunday, October 27 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Large sections of the country will be able to watch the game on CBS.
According to the Week 8 NFL odds, the Colts are 5.5-point favorites at home. The game also has an over/under of 42 points.
The Broncos appeared to be moving in the right direction after back-to-back wins over the Chargers and Titans. But they got knocked back down to earth last week with a home loss to the Chiefs. Even after knocking Patrick Mahomes out of the game, the Broncos couldn’t rally.
After trading away Emmanuel Sanders during the week, it seems like Denver is already looking ahead toward next season. At 2-5, their chances of getting back into the playoff race are slim, especially with three of their next four games coming on the road. If the Broncos have a run in them, it has to start with a win against the Colts on Sunday.
Speaking of the Colts, they currently sit alone atop the AFC South standings after their head-to-head win over the Texans last week. Indy’s lead is just half a game over Houston and a game and a half over Jacksonville and Tennessee. In other words, the Colts lead the most competitive and balanced division in football. Two weeks is all it could take for the Colts to go from first to last in the AFC South, so they need to keep winning.
Fortunately, Indy has a favorable schedule ahead of them. After winning at home last week, the Colts still play three of their next four games at home. More importantly, their next four games are all against teams with losing records leading up to their return trip to Houston on a Thursday. Indianapolis will likely be favored in every game until then, putting them in a good position to build upon their lead atop the division.
I don’t say this often, but this line almost feels too good to be true. I’m almost tempted to say that this game is like stealing money. The Broncos were awful at home last week, and even with a few extra days to prepare, it’s hard to see things getting much better. As long as the line is less than a touchdown, this is a heavy lean toward the Colts.
Denver’s biggest problem right now is the offensive line. This has been their biggest problem all season and it’s not getting any better. It might actually be getting worse. Joe Flacco was sacked nine times last week against the Chiefs. Keep in mind Kansas City’s defense is full of flaws and was near the bottom of the league in sacks heading into last week’s game.
The Indianapolis defense should be more than capable of taking advantage of such a porous offensive line, especially at home. The Colts have amassed 16 sacks in six games this season, including seven sacks over their last two games. They got to Deshaun Watson three times last week, and that’s against a mobile quarterback. Flacco, on the other hand, is akin to a statue after he drops back. Once the pressure starts to come, Flacco is either going to throw the ball away or take a sack.
The Broncos might have a chance to keep the Indy defense honest if they can run the ball with Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman. The Colts have been solid but unspectacular stopping the run this year. However, they’ve also played most of the season without linebacker Darius Leonard, who finally returned from injury last week. Leonard raises the level of the entire Indy defense. He should help force the Broncos to live and die with Flacco, who now has a diminished set of receivers with Sanders being traded.
To their credit, Denver’s defense has hung in there this year and is giving up less than 20 points per game. But there’s only so much they can do when the offense isn’t contributing. They’re also facing a well-balanced Indianapolis offense. The Colts have a top-10 rushing attack behind Marlon Mack, which helps to open up the passing game for Jacoby Brissett.
Despite not putting up eye-popping numbers this season, Brissett has been remarkably efficient this year. He has 14 touchdowns to just three interceptions on the season while completing 65% of his passes. When there are plays to be made in the passing game, he can make them. The Colts are also getting contributions from their complementary receivers, most notably Zach Pascal, who had a big game against the Texans last week.
Barring a complete turnaround from the Broncos, it’s hard to imagine Denver having a chance to win in the fourth quarter. The Colts are more than good enough to expose a team with this many flaws. I’d be surprised if Indianapolis didn’t cover the 5.5-point spread with plenty of room to spare.