2003 Season NFL Football Past Picks
January 04, 2004
Denver at Indianapolis
Sunday 01/04 04:30 PM Eastern
4 units on Denver +3 (-110) (risk 4 to return 7.64) RESULT: LOSS
When the Broncos visited Indianapolis last two weeks ago, they had their way with the Colts in a 31-17 rout. Should we expect anything different this time? I don’t expect a rout but I expect the same outcome. Clearly lots went Denver’s way that game. I don’t expect that to happen again. The Colts will make adjustments. However, Denver is about as strong and well-rounded a team as there is in the playoffs right now – and that’s including teams on a bye this week. They’re ranked Top 10 in the league in rushing offense, total offense, rushing defense, passing defense and total defense. In fact, the only area they are not ranked highly is passing offense. This is at least partially explained by Jake Plummer’s absence in over a third of this season’s games. Jake and oft-injured Clinton Portis should be close to 100% this weekend. If they didn’t have to do it all on the road, the Ponies might be a decent pick for the Super Bowl. The Broncos have what I call the “Super Bowl Formula”: a strong running game (ranked 2nd) and a tough defense (ranked 4th). Peyton Manning is a mixed bag. He’s coming off an MVP-caliber season (4,267 yards and 29 TDs) but we all know his history in big games both in the pros and college. This is one of the reasons I picked the Jets against the Colts last year in what turned out to be one of the biggest drubbings of all time (the Jets won 41-0). Manning certainly wants this game as bad as any he’s ever played. Will that help him or hurt him? Hard to tell. He’ll certainly be motivated but the increased pressure might be exactly the reason he’s struggled in big games in the past. Denver’s coming in to this game with more confidence. Minus the last game of the season in which they sat multiple starters, they’re riding a 4-game winning streak (and we’ve already discussed their big win over Indy two weeks ago). Indianapolis has show weakness in the second half of the season. In their last five games, they went just 3-2 and nearly lost to Houston in the final game of the season. One big difference between this game and the last matchup between these clubs: This week the Broncos will have one of the top weapons they didn’t have – a healthy Clinton Portis. Even without him, the Broncs put up 227 yards on the ground against the Colts. My Matchup Power Ratings indicate that this game should actually be closer to a pick ‘em or with the Broncos favored. While I give the motivational edge to Indianapolis, I think Denver is just a stronger club.