BY MARK KERN
Home Field Sports
The Denver Broncos will look to bounce back from a tough loss to the Raiders as they play host to the struggling Indianapolis Colts on Thursday Night Football to open NFL Week 5.
Fresh off a win against the Kansas City Chiefs, expectations were high for a home game against the Tennessee Titans. However, early turnovers doomed the Colts, as the team was down 24-3 late in the first half. A major issue was the inability to run the ball, as star running back Jonathan Taylor had only 42 yards on 20 carries, his fewest single-game rushing total since his rookie year against Tennessee.
Denver will also be looking to bounce back from a loss, as the Broncos fell to the Raiders in Las Vegas. Major news out of that game was second-year star running back Javonte Williams tore his ACL and is out for the season. This will force quarterback Russell Wilson to have to throw the ball more and will make it tougher for Denver to figure out its red zone woes.
Caesars Sportsbook has listed the Broncos as a 3-point favorite with an over/under of 42½.
Let’s take a closer look at the odds and trends:
Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos
Time/TV: 8:15 p.m. ET Thursday, Amazon Prime
Point spread (from Caesars Sportsbook): Denver -3
Money line: Indianapolis +150, Denver -178
Analysis: To win in the NFL, teams have to be effective in the red zone, and the Broncos simply haven’t been good enough. Entering Thursday night, Denver has scored touchdowns on only 30% of their red zone drives, which is last by a wide margin (San Francisco is 31st at 40%). With Williams out, that eliminates one of the team’s best playmakers. Melvin Gordon is now the leading rusher for Denver, but he barely averages 34 yards per game.
Injuries are going to play a role for the Colts, as Taylor is dealing with ankle issues. While the expectation is that he will play, this could put added pressure on quarterback Matt Ryan, who has been awful to start the year. He has fumbled the ball nine times in four games, on pace for a record shattering 38 fumbles (Kerry Collins and Daunte Culpepper share the ignominious mark at 23). He has also thrown five interceptions and is not in sync with the offensive personnel. With a limited Taylor, the Broncos figure to load the box consistently with eight or nine defenders.
Thursday night games have been known to be low-scoring games, as evidenced by last week’s 27-15 win by Cincinnati. Three days is tough to come up with an offensive game plan, and neither of these offenses are on the level of Miami or Cincinnati. This has the making of a low-scoring slugfest.
Prediction: Denver 21, Indianapolis 17