January 27, 2013; Honolulu, HI, USA; AFC quarterback Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts (12) and AFC quarterback Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos (18) pass the ball during warm ups before the 2013 Pro Bowl against the NFC at Aloha Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts: Expert predictions

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With the big game on the schedule for today being the Denver Broncos trip to Lucas Oil Stadium to reunite Peyton Manning with the Indianapolis Colts, we took some time to speak with our resident experts on the FanSided Network to discuss the story lines leading up to the game.

Kim Constantinesco and Sayre Bedinger, our co-editors for the Denver Broncos site, Predominently Orange, along with Evan Massey and Jeremy Nicholas from our Colts site, Naptown’s Finest, took some time out of their game preparation to answer some questions for us. 

Check out what they had to say below:

Is the Jim Irsay vs. Peyton Manning angle being overblown or will it actually have an affect on the game?

Sayre: I think it’s definitely been overblown, but it will most certainly have an affect on the game, at least early on I think. Wesley Woodyard said in his latest blog on DenverBroncos.com: “…So, it’s a big game for him. He doesn’t need to say anything, we don’t need to say anything – that’s just a given.” Regardless of what Irsay says or doesn’t say, Peyton legitimately thought the Colts were keeping him in 2012, and Irsay chose Luck over Manning. He chose the future over the present. Manning is not blind to that.

Kim: Jim Irsay is obviously an attention-loving owner. His comments won’t have an effect on the game though. I pictured Manning in front of his locker after hearing Irsay’s stab saying, “Idiot owner. Got liquored up and ran his mouth.” Irsay wouldn’t have a ring at all if it weren’t for Manning, and that’s pretty clear to even the casual sports fan.

Evan: It is definitely being overblown. Jim Irsay’s comments were taken the wrong way and he clarified things. There is nothing personal between Manning and Irsay. I don’t see it having any affect on this game. The two sides are as pumped up as they can be.

Jeremy: The thing is, that Irsay may be trying to simply divert attention away from Andrew Luck and the Colts. If anything, Irsay was taking a shot at former GM , Bill Polian, for questionable roster moves.

What is the most important match up in this game to ensure your team’s success?

Sayre: The most important matchup in this game to ensure success for the Broncos is OL vs. DL, both sides of the ball. The Broncos are without Orlando Franklin AND Ryan Clady for this game, so Louis Vasquez is starting at RT. They need to make sure Robert Mathis and company don’t get to Manning. On the other side of the ball, with Von Miller back in the fold, it’s going to be crucial to make sure you get pressure on Luck. They haven’t generated much of a rush this season on the early downs, which has created a serious mis-leading set of defensive numbers for the Broncos. Statistically they are one of the worst in the NFL right now but there are things to keep in mind.

1. They have been nowhere near full strength at any point this year.
2. The offense scores so often and so quickly, the defense is out on the field an abnormal amount of time.
Kim: The match up to watch is Robert Mathis vs. the right side of the Broncos’ line. Mathis is tied for the league lead in sacks (9.5 through six games), and the Broncos have a makeshift line right now after right tackle Orlando Franklin sprained his knee and ankle in last week’s win. The Broncos have moved Louis Vasquez from right guard to right tackle to fill the void and Chris Kuper will be in at right guard. Vasquez has never started at tackle in his long career so to go against Mathis for the bulk of the day will present a huge challenge. The outside linebacker also has a huge nose for Manning, after practicing against him for eight seasons. Look for the Broncos to bulk up the line with their two tight-end package.
Evan: Indianapolis has to have their secondary step up in a big way to go against Peyton Manning. LaRon Landry will likely be back which will certainly add a good amount of help, but they need to step up and make things difficult on Peyton.
Jeremy: Manning vs Mathis. If Robert Mathis can rattle Peyton, then the Colts might just pull out a win.
Who will have a better game: Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck?

Sayre: Peyton Manning will have the better game between he and Andrew Luck.

Kim: I’d venture to say that Lucas Oil Stadium feels more like home to Manning than it does for Luck still. With four big-time receiving targets, Manning will have a better game than Luck. No player is better prepared mentally than Manning, and you can bet he started preparing for this one last spring.

Evan: My money is on Peyton Manning. Luck will have a solid game, but he hasn’t been putting up big numbers all season. The Broncos do have the worst pass defense thus far this year, so that may play a factor, but I think Manning will be able to have his way for the most part with the Colts’ secondary.

Jeremy: Peyton will have a better game, but Luck may look like the better player. Andrew may have to make up some scores in trash time, and he might just look decent, in a comeback attempt.

What is the greatest story line in this game that no one is talking about?

Sayre: The great storyline in this game that no one is talking about is the return of Winston Justice to Indianapolis. Just kidding. Obviously the storyline that’s not getting national pub like it should be is the return of Von Miller, arguably the best defensive player in the league. That is so big for the Broncos and people don’t seem to realize it. Everyone was quick to put this team at 3-3 or even 2-4 without Von prior to the season, and now that he’s back somehow that impact has been diminished. Tell you what, he’s going to change things dramatically for the Denver D.

Kim: Sure there’s Manning’s homecoming, Irsay’s comments, Luck’s first time facing the man who figuratively built the building he’s playing in, and Miller’s return to the team, but another great story line to add to the mix the battle in the secondary. With a combined 28 years of experience, Champ Bailey and Reggie Wayne will square off.

“I’m sure I’ll call him ‘old man’ at some point throughout the game,” Bailey told reporters this week.
It won’t be the most athletic match up that you’ll ever see, but it will be a chess match for the ages, where whoever shows the most intelligence and makes the most efficient moves will come out the winner.
Evan: Not really sure that you can have a story line that doesn’t involve Peyton Manning coming back to Indianapolis. Almost everything is being talked about and it’s the most hyped up game of the year.
Jeremy: There will be a ridiculous amount of Manning/Broncos fans at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday night. Some tickets are being sold for $2,000, and it will be wild to see how the home crowd reacts.

Prediction for today’s game:

Sayre: I predict the Broncos win the game. I don’t know what the score will be but I think the Broncos will be in the 40s. I don’t like doing score predictions because they make me look bad. Let me just say, I think we’ll see one of the most complete performances from the Broncos this season with the return of Von Miller.

Kim: The Broncos fly high on offense after a slow start, and special teams throws in a touchdown of their own. Broncos – 48 Colts – 32

Evan: The Colts are going to put up a good fight, but I just don’t see them being able to keep up with the Peyton Manning led Broncos. If I had to predict a final score, I’d say Broncos 35, Colts 28.

Jeremy: Peyton is unhappy. Broncos early. Broncos often. Broncos win….But, Colts vs Broncos rematch in the 2013 NFL Playoffs, at Mile High. #Luck’s Revenge

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