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Colts' mission vs. Broncos: Make Peyton Manning throw interceptions

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The Broncos have depth everywhere on offense, and a defense that can make life hell for quarterbacks when it has a lead. None of that matters when Peyton Manning turns the ball over.

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Last week, I said if the Bengals wanted to beat the Colts, they had to get at least two picks off Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. Some (morons) took this as a slight against Luck when, in reality, it was just me playing the probability game. When Luck doesn't play well and throws picks, his team tends to lose. That's pretty straightforward. As a matter of fact, that's exactly why this week, I think it's the Colts that have to get two picks off of my former college teammate and fellow Vol For Life Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, probably the second greatest Tennessee player that ever lived behind the deceased Reggie White, may he rest in peace.

I hope it's obvious this time that my projection isn't a slight against the quarterback; it's just an analysis of what has happened in the past. Manning threw 15 picks this year. That's a fact. The Broncos only lost four games this year, also a fact. Manning threw nine of those 15 picks in those four contests, which is the most important fact of all. Reasonable people can agree that if you want to beat the Broncos, then recent history says you have to pick Manning off at least once. Twice if you want to be sure about it.

This time, it goes deeper than that. The Broncos are just a bad matchup for the Colts. They say styles make fights and to me, this clash of styles has all the makings of a Broncos blowout. The Colts usually don't face anybody that matches up well with both receivers T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne; the Broncos sport the tandem of Chris Harris and Aqib Talib at cornerback, who were practically tailor-made for the job.

The Broncos also ended the regular season with the No. 3 defense in the league overall, not coincidentally because they ended the regular season as the No. 2 defense in the league against the run (surrendering just under 80 yards on the ground a game on average). I know Boom Herron has flashed a few times, and I know the guy they put in after Boom fumbled last Sunday, Zurlon Tipton, also did some good things to finish the game.

That's cute.

When it gets to nut-cutting time Sunday and the Colts can't piss a drop with their running game, they'll have to worry about Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware hunting Luck pass play after play. With the recent poor performance of right tackle Joe Reitz, that does not bode well for the Colts.

I will say that the Colts have one of the premier cover corners in the league, Vontae Davis, and he had four interceptions of his own this season. Greg Toler, who lines up opposite Davis, is no schmuck either, and he had two interceptions of his own this year. But the Broncos just have soooooooo many weapons on offense. Shut down Demaryius Thomas, and here comes Emmanuel Sanders knocking you upside your head. Got them on lock? There goes tight end Julius Thomas flying up the seam all by himself. Keep a guy over the top of him too? Oh ok, well there is Welker moving the chains again.

Oh, you forgot about Wes Welker, didn't you?

Tell the truth!

This is before we get to the suddenly stacked and talented backfield with undrafted revelation C. J. Anderson leading the way. Ronnie Hillman has had another week of rest to get back as close to 100 percent as he can. That Broncos offensive line has also had another week to rest up and get healthy. If the Broncos come out firing on all cylinders, this one could be over by halftime, folks.

If there is one reason Colts fans may have some confidence going into this game, it's that the forecast on my Weather.com app says the high will be 41 degrees on Sunday in Denver with a low of 21 degrees. That means it's going to be cooooooold. We all know, even if some won't admit, that Peyton has looked his most vulnerable in recent years when the temperature dips below freezing. If those deep balls of his start fluttering as they tend to do in cold weather games, the Colts will have plenty of opportunities to take advantage with interceptions. Just as with Luck last week, I do feel like at some point in the game, Peyton will serve up a ball or two that can be intercepted. It's going to come down to whether the Colts make him pay for his mistakes or not. That will determine who wins the game and moves on to the championship round.

It's really as simple as that.