If you want to understand just what a brutal game football is, a good way to do so is by looking at the injuries Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck suffered in 2015:
- A mysterious shoulder injury
- Torn rib cartilage
- A lacerated kidney
- Torn abdominal muscles
Luck ended up playing only seven games, and he slogged through the worst NFL season (15 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, a 55.3 completion rate) of his career. Things were so bad that in November, an Indianapolis doctor literally likened Luck’s injuries to that of someone who’d been involved in a car crash.
Luck spent all offseason recovering. He made his 2016 debut against the Detroit Lions and enjoyed one of the best performances of his career, completing 31 of 47 passes for 385 yards, four touchdowns and committing no turnovers. He looked accurate, decisive, confident and unafraid. The long throws down the field, which were uncharacteristically off target in 2015, were spot-on last weekend.
The former No. 1 overall pick out of Stanford looked like his old self, even if his defense let him down in a 39-35 loss to the Lions. And that alone should give the Broncos some cause for concern in their matchup against the Colts on Sunday.
Luck and his receivers, T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief, can keep the Colts in any game. Indianapolis’ offensive line, a big reason why Luck got beat up like an off-road vehicle last season, did a better job in Week 1. The Lions sacked Luck twice and recorded five QB hits against him.
Of course, the Lions’ pass rush isn’t on par with the Broncos’. No team’s is. So we’ll see how it holds up against Von Miller and company. Allowing Luck to stand in the pocket with time doesn’t bode well for the Broncos. They’ll try and harass him like they did Cam Newton. When they do get to him, it will be interesting to see if the officials protect Luck a little better than Newton.
The Von Millers oversized glasses’ matchup to keep an eye on
Denver’s newfound power rushing attack vs. Indianapolis’ front seven.
The Broncos made life easy for second-year quarterback Trevor Siemian in the opener. They asked him to hand the ball off more than he threw. The Broncos opted to play smash-mouth football, with fullback Andy Janovich playing behind the offensive line and running back C.J. Anderson behind him.
It worked. Janovich, who played 47 percent of the offensive snaps, and the new-look O-line mauled people. Anderson did his part, too.
Denver finished with 29 carries for 148 yards, which equals a 5.1-yards -per-attempt average. That took some of the pressure off Siemian.
The Colts’ defensive line and linebackers aren’t nearly as imposing as Carolina’s. There’s no reason why Denver can’t find similar success on the ground in Week 2.
How to watch the game
When: 2:25 p.m. Sunday
Where: Mile High Stadium
Colts 24, Broncos 20