At the start of the season, the Week-9 matchup between the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts looked like it would be a contest between two of the NFL’s best teams. Instead, the undefeated Broncos visit the Colts, who could be headed for their first losing season since 2011.
Denver is running away with the AFC West at 7-0, having cemented their place among the NFL’s elite with a 29-10 win over the Green Bay Packers in Week 8. Indianapolis is tied for first place, but only because they play in the NFL’s worst division. A third straight loss last week puts them at 3-5 on the year.
The betting public has been on the Broncos this week, making them 5.5-point favorites, according to vegasinsider.com. The over/under is 45 points.
The Colts have experienced injuries to their top two offensive players this season. First it was Andrew Luck, who suffered a shoulder injury that forced him to miss two games. Now, it’s Luck’s No.1 wide receiver that is hurt. T.Y. Hilton has been in a walking boot this week and missed practice, making him questionable for Sunday’s game. Hilton has 38 catches for 621 yards, ranking 14th among NFL receivers. Hilton only caught one pass for 15 yards in the team’s last game, though he was targeted seven times.
Indianapolis ranked third in total offense last season, but they haven’t been nearly as good in 2015. The team is 16th in yards per game, as Luck struggles through the worst season of his career. The quarterback threw for three more interceptions against Carolina in Week 8, and he leads the league with 12 picks. He’s thrown at least two interceptions in every game except for one, and the Colts still managed to lose that contest.
Denver’s offense has been a disappointment this season, despite their 7-0 start. Not only has Peyton Manning played poorly, but running back C.J. Anderson hasn’t lived up to expectations. He’s averaging just 3.5 yards per carry, and Ronnie Hillman is set to start in his place for a second straight week. Hillman struggled against the Packers, rushing for just 60 yards on 19 attempts, but he’s still averaging 4.5 yards per carry. Hillman is listed as questionable with a leg injury, but head coach Gary Kubiak said he looks fine.
With Manning and Denver’s running game struggling, it’s been the Broncos’ defense that’s carried them to a perfect season through eight weeks. Pass rushers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware have combined for 9.5 sacks. Aqib Talib has been in top form, intercepting three passes and shutting down opposing receivers. Aaron Rodgers threw for just 77 yards in Denver last week.
Denver vs. Indianapolis will be the final afternoon game to kick off with the contest set to start at 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS. Fans who purchase NFLSUNDAYTICKET.TV can watch the game with a live stream online.