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Paul Klee's report card and prediction for Broncos at Colts (welcome to a winning streak?)

By: Paul Klee
December 14, 2017 Updated: December 14, 2017 at 3:49 pm
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Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian gets a pass off despite pressure from Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis in the second quarter of the Broncos 34-20 win over the Indianapolis Colts Sunday, September 18, 2016 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette

A look at Thursday night's Broncos-Colts game at Indianapolis (6:25 p.m., NBC, NFL, 850 AM, 107.9 FM).

OFFENSE

Not to go all Donald Trump on you guys. But can someone check Frank Gore’s birth certificate? It says the Colts’ tailback is 34. So his 36-carry performance — in winter’s harshest elements, at Buffalo — is like shooting your age on the golf course. Half man, half machine. All amazing.

Advantage: Colts

DEFENSE

Championship defenses die hard. The 2000 Ravens ranked second in defense the next season, too. The 2003 Bucs ranked in the top five the next three seasons. Even the Super Bowl shufflin’ 1985 Bears held on for three more seasons in the top five. These Broncos are no different.

Advantage: Broncos
 
SPECIAL TEAMS

With one simple, rational adjustment, the Broncos, despite all their boneheaded boo-boos, would still in the playoff conversation: Jordan Taylor on punt returns. In the utterly winnable AFC West, an argument can be made that Isaiah McKenzie’s six fumbles cost Denver three wins.

Advantage: Colts
 
COACHING

Like the 5K Turkey Trot and third-grade hoops at the “Y,” the Broncos were rewarded for their first win in two months with a special gift: t-shirts. “To give guys t-shirts for playing well and to watch the joy in the locker room is fun,” Vance Joseph said. Is this the NFL or summer camp?
Advantage: Colts
 
INTANGIBLES

The Colts must be sore after playing an OT game in snowy Buffalo. “I would have to say it’s difficult playing in those kinds of elements,” coach Chuck Pagano said Tuesday. The healthier, motivated team wins these 50-50 Thursday games. Welcome to a winning streak, Colorado.
Advantage: Broncos

Klee’s prediction: Broncos (-2) 20, Colts 13 (Straight-up record: 9-4; ATS record: 9-4)

RELATED

Klee: What you missed about Peyton Manning from the Broncos' Super Bowl win — and the impact that lingers.

Ramsey: Broncos brace for attack from Frank Gore, the NFL's rampaging old man.

Broncos, Colts believe plenty at stake other than playoffs.

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