After being released by the Indianapolis Colts in the 2012 offseason, Peyton Manning is finally ready to make his return Lucas Oil Stadium. Manning and the Denver Broncos visit the Colts on Sunday night in the arguably the most anticipated matchup of Week Seven.
The contest isn’t just Manning’s homecoming to the city where he spent the first 14 years of his career. It’s also the first matchup between one of the all-time great quarterbacks and the player who could be poised to take his spot as the No.1 signal caller in the NFL.
When the Colts decided to part ways with Manning, they used the first pick in the draft on Andrew Luck. The Stanford grad was one of the most highly touted quarterbacks to ever come into the league, and he hasn’t disappointed through his first 19 regular season games. In his rookie season, he helped the Colts far exceed expectations, leading them to a nine-game improvement and the playoffs.
While both Manning and Luck had successful first-year campaigns with their new teams, 2013 has been even better. They play for two of the best teams in the conference and could be on a collision course to face off in the AFC Championship Game.
Both quarterbacks have played very well, but no player in football can compare to what Manning has accomplished in the first six weeks. He leads all quarterbacks in every major category with a 128.8 passer rating, 22 touchdowns, 2,179 passing yards and a 74.2 completion percentage. If Manning can continue on this pace, he will break the single-season record in all those areas. His two interceptions have him tied for the second-best ever, having just 0.8 percent of his attempts picked off.
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Not only is Manning playing at his highest level, but his team is having unprecedented success. They are one of two teams that remain undefeated, and their 44.2 points per game is a record through the first six weeks. The Broncos have been favored in every game and may not be an underdog for the entire regular season.
Luck may not be putting up historical numbers like Manning, but he’s played even better than he did in his standout rookie season. His passer rating and completion percentage has improved, and he’s thrown just three interceptions.
The Colts are coming off a disappointing loss to the San Diego Chargers, but they could be the team that finally upsets Denver. Indianapolis already has a few marquee wins as underdogs. In Week Three, they beat the San Francisco 49ers handily, despite a point spread in the double-digits. Two weeks later, they upset the Seattle Seahawks, giving them their first loss of the year.
The Broncos are undefeated, but their record is based largely on the strength of their offense. The defense has surrendered more passing yards than any team in football, though some of that can be attributed to the large leads they have held late in the second half games.
The Indianapolis offense will, however, have to deal with a player that no Denver opponent has yet to face. Linebacker Von Miller returns to the team after serving a six-game suspension to start the year.
Start Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Betting Odds: Denver -6.5
TV Channel: NBC
Online Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
Prediction: Denver 37, Indianapolis 31