091922-news-broncostexans 13386 .jpg

Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) passes the ball to Denver Broncos running back Javonte Williams (33) during a game against the Houston Texans at Empower Field at Mile High Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022. The Broncos defeated the Texans 16-9. (Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette)

Offense

Both the Broncos and Colts have struggled offensively through four games. The Colts rank 19th in total offense and the Broncos rank 21st. And they're both near the bottom in scoring offense, with the Broncos at 30th at 16.5 points per game and the Colts at 32nd at 14.3. The Broncos did lose starting running back Javonte Williams for the season and Colts running back Jonathan Taylor has been ruled out for Thursday night's game with an ankle injury. This prime-time game could be an offensive slugfest. 

Advantage: Tie

Defense 

This is the strength of both teams, as the Broncos rank fourth in total defense and the Colts rank sixth. But both will be without key players Thursday night — outside linebacker Randy Gregory for Denver and inside linebacker Shaquille Leonard for Indianapolis. Still, both defenses are expected to be stout against these two struggling offenses. 

Advantage: Tie 

Special teams

Broncos rookie kick and punt returner Montrell Washington is coming off his best game of the season, returning three punts for 66 yards. And he may have more opportunities this week, as the Colts allowed four kickoff returns for 105 yards last week against the Titans. The Colts have struggled on special teams this year, while the Broncos have improved week-to-week. 

Sign Up for Pikes Peak 5

Game analysis and insights from The Gazette sports staff including columns by Woody Paige and Paul Klee.

Success! Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter.

Advantage: Broncos 

Coaching 

Neither coach has had the start to the 2022 season that they had hoped for. Colts coach Frank Reich is already on the hot seat four games into his fifth season as head coach. And Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett has received an abundance of criticism for game management and offensive playcalling in his first season as a head coach. Both are desperate for a win Thursday night, but Reich gets the nod here just due to his experience. 

Advantage: Colts 

Intangibles

The Broncos are coming off an emotional loss in Las Vegas that included not only their first loss in the AFC West, but also the loss of Williams and Gregory to injury. Coming back home in prime time, the Broncos are approaching this as a must-win game. And the short week works in their favor, not having to travel and allowing them to get back on track after the Raiders game. 

Advantage: Broncos 

Sign Up for Pikes Peak 5

Game analysis and insights from The Gazette sports staff including columns by Woody Paige and Paul Klee.

Success! Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter.

Load comments