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2014 Game-by-Game: Week 1

Posted Jun 18, 2014

Denver opens the regular season against the Colts, perennial postseason participants who have their eyes on bigger goals.

  • WHEN: Sunday, Sept. 7; 6:30 p.m. MDT.
  • WHERE: Sports Authority Field at Mile High. 
  • TV: NBC. 
  • SERIES RECORD: Broncos lead, 11-9 (Colts lead 2-0 in the postseason). 
  • JOHN FOX'S RECORD: 3-2. 
  • PEYTON MANNING'S RECORD: 0–1. 
  • SERIES STREAK: Indianapolis has won six straight, including two in Denver.
  • LAST TIME: Colts 39, Broncos 33; Oct. 20, 2013. An emotional night for Peyton Manning began with a tribute video from his former team and ended with the Broncos' first loss of the 2013 season. The Broncos played without both season-opening offensive tackles: Ryan Clady, who was lost for the year in Week 2, and Orlando Franklin, injured the week before. The Colts pounced on the changes, relentlessly attacking Manning. They hit him 10 times, including four sacks, two by Robert Mathis, and one of which led to a safety. Manning threw for 386 yards and three touchdowns and nearly brought the Broncos all the way back, but the rally was scuttled by a goal-to-go fumble from Ronnie Hillman. Manning was moved by the tribute, but was also glad his first game in Indianapolis after being cut by the Colts was done. "I’m kind of in some ways somewhat relieved this game is over," he said. Andrew Luck and the Colts also overcame a season-ending knee injury to wide receiver Reggie Wayne to complete an October sweep of eventual Super Bowl XLVIII participants.
  • LAST TIME IN DENVER: Colts 27, Broncos 13; Sept. 26, 2010. Kyle Orton threw for 151 more yards and averaged 0.8 more yards per attempt than Manning, but Orton and the Denver offense transformed from a purring Corvette to a broken-down rickshaw when it hit scoring range. Six drives that advanced to at least the Colts' 35-yard-line netted a meager six points. Five of them made it to the red zone, with only a pair of Matt Prater field goals and three turnovers on downs to show for them. Nevertheless, the Broncos had a shot until Manning found Austin Collie for a 48-yard reception on third-and-15 from the Indianapolis 17 during the fourth quarter; four plays later, Manning hit Collie again for a 23-yard, game-clinching score.

NOTING THE GAME:

  • Denver is 12-1 in home openers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High and has won 26 of its last 30 home openers. Since the AFL-NFL merger, Broncos are 36-7-1 in their first home game of the season.
  • The Broncos are 8-4 in prime-time, nationally-televised season-opening games -- all of which have come since 1992 -- and 7-3 in that scenario at home. When counting the games they played to open seasons in the AFL, the Broncos are 10-8 when beginning with a night game.
  • Every regular-season opener in the Fox era has been in prime time, and at home. Denver is 2-1 in these games, winning the last two after falling 23-20 to the Raiders to open the 2011 season.
  • When Manning goes back to pass, he might look for fellow ex-Colt Jacob Tamme. But he could have to contend with an ex-Bronco who knows both well: safety Mike Adams. He signed with the Colts this week and will be in the thick of a wide-open competition for one of the starting safety spots.
  • The Broncos are 21-17 all-time in Sunday night games -- 13-6 at home, 8-11 on the road. Denver is 5-2 in home Sunday night games broadcast by NBC, winning 27-17 over Kansas City in that scenario last Nov. 17.
  • When opening the regular season at home, Manning-led teams are 5-2, and have won five of the last six.
  • Ball security is an offseason point of emphasis, and will be crucial in Week 1. The Broncos had a minus-2 turnover margin against the Colts last year, and lost -- as did every other team with a negative turnover margin versus the Colts. Indianapolis has won 14 consecutive games dating back to December 2011 when it had a positive turnover margin; since then, the Colts are 6-3 with an even margin, and 5-10 when it is negative (including playoffs).