The first Sunday Night Football game of the season, tonight’s Indianapolis Colts vs Denver Broncos game, couldn’t be a better way to start NBC’s season. Fans want to see how the Broncos respond after their Super Bowl loss to the Seattle Seahawks. They want to watch Colts QB Andrew Luck drive down Denver QB Peyton Manning’s home field. And they want to see a game that’s among the best of Week 1.
When the Colts last faced the Broncos they won 39-33 in dramatic fashion. The game marked Peyton Manning’s first visit to Indianapolis since the team released him. Manning walked onto his former home field with a 6-0 record, having guided the Broncos to at least 41 points in four of those games and 50-plus in two.
Manning played well against the Colts, going 29-for-49 for 386 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Then Luck happened. And Robert Mathis. And Manning was sacked four times. And the Broncos QB got an ankle injury. Just like that, the stage was set for Manning-Luck round 2, with Manning playing from behind.
That rematch happens in tonight’s Sunday Night Football game, which kicks off from Sports Authority Field at Mile High at 8:30 EST / 5:30 PST.
The biggest news for this week’s Colts / Broncos game wasn’t the quarterback battle, though that’s never going to get old. Instead it was news that tight end Wes Welker had been suspended four games for violating the NFL’s PED policy. Manning said the team had been preparing to play without Welker in tonight’s Colts / Broncos game, though Welker’s contributions will be missed.
Last season Welker was Manning’s favorite target. He finished the regular season with 73 receptions for 778 yards and 10 touchdowns. Manning last season had 450 completions for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns. That means Welker accounted for 16% of the Broncos passes, 14% of their total yards and 18% of their touchdowns. That’s a lot of offense gone.
They’ll try to make up for it on defense. Colts QB Luck goes into tonight’s Broncos / Colts game on Sunday Night Football facing a completely overhauled Broncos defense since Denver got pounded in the Super Bowl.
Defensive end DeMarcus Ware, safety T.J. Ward, cornerback Aqib Talib and rookie cornerback Bradley Roby are all new. They’re also all expected to see significant snaps against the Colts on tonight’s NBC Sunday Night Football game.
Luck and the Colts offense give the Indy faithful several reasons to watch and hope for a win. Wide receiver Reggie Wayne is expected to play after returning for several good series during the preseason. Running back Trent Richardson, after an abysmal season last year following his high-profile trade to the Colts, is bound to turn things around in 2014. And his cohort, running back Ahmad Bradshaw, will likely improve after being limited to 41 carries for 186 yards and 2 TDs last year.
Tonight’s Sunday Night Football game is being broadcast live on NBC starting at 8:30 EST / 5:30 PST. You can watch Colts vs Broncos game free online live streaming both via the NBC Sports website and on DirecTV’s website if you have the NFL Sunday Ticket MAX package. That package requires a subscription, but all subscribers can watch today’s Colts / Broncos game online free via the DirecTV live stream if they’re stuck watching on a smartphone, tablet or PC.