Luck vs Manning II

This has to be one of the best matchups of Sunday NFL week 1 2014.  Only this time instead of Manning returning to Indianapolis he gets to play his former team at home in Denver.  The public is ALL OVER manning and the Broncos to the tune of 70% or higher—this one opened up with the Broncos giving -6.5 points at home.  the line has now moved to -7 and -7.5 some places.

nfl week 1 2014 colts broncos

Here is the matchup preview from originally from AP new

Peyton Manning’s first game against his former team focused on his emotional return to Indianapolis and how he still was revered by the city he brought a Super Bowl title during his tenure with the Colts.

There isn’t nearly as much positivity surrounding this matchup.

The Colts’ owner who helped engineer a stirring tribute in October won’t be allowed in the building Sunday night in Denver, and neither will one of Manning’s trustworthy receiving targets as the Broncos begin their quest for a second straight AFC championship.

After Manning missed the entire 2011 season due to neck surgery, Jim Irsay made the difficult decision to release his star quarterback and select Andrew Luck with the No. 1 overall pick as Manning’s replacement.

Manning has thrived in Denver while leading the Broncos to back-to-back 13-win seasons. He set NFL records with 55 touchdown passes and 5,477 yards in 2013 before a 43-8 loss to Seattle in the Super Bowl.

Denver’s first defeat last season came in Manning’s return to Indianapolis, a 39-33 loss Oct. 20. The focus for Manning heading into this matchup, though, is how the Broncos will be able to overcome the loss of Wes Welker, who was suspended for the first four games after he violated the league’s performance-enhancing drugs policy.

“A lot of people are going to have to step up and raise their play,” Manning said. “When you don’t have one of your best players, a guy who is one of your top contributors, I think it falls on more than just one person. That’s our challenge.”

Irsay won’t be able to see how it turns out. He’s been banned from contact with the Colts for the first six games and was fined $500,000 stemming from a DWI he received in March.

Colts coach Chuck Pagano didn’t speak much about it and tried to keep the focus on Sunday’s season opener.

“Business as usual,” Pagano said. “Mr. Irsay is family. We have his back.”

Manning also tried to deflect the negativity resulting from Welker’s situation, discussing how players like leading receiver Demaryius Thomas, former Pittsburgh receiver Emmanuel Sanders, tight end Julius Thomas and a host of others can make up for the missing production in the passing game – which also lost Eric Decker in free agency.

“I am tired of talking, and I am looking forward to playing some real football,” Manning said. “We’re playing a really good football team, a playoff team, and it’s going to be a challenge.”

Luck has led the Colts to consecutive 11-win seasons since taking Manning’s spot under center and helped them overcome a 28-point deficit in the third quarter for a 45-44 win over Kansas City in the wild-card round.

Indianapolis fell to New England the following week, and has its sights set on a deeper run this season. Knocking off the defending conference champs would be a good start.

“They’ve got a lot of players who can play football, but I think we’ve got a lot of guys who can play football as well,” Luck said. “It should be a great test and a great matchup.”

As for his comparisons to Manning? Luck hasn’t even listened.

“To be honest, even since Day 1 here, it hasn’t been an issue. I never came in saying, ‘Oh, I have to replace a legend, one of the greatest of all-time,'” Luck said. “Professional sports people, they come and they go. Someone’s going to replace me eventually, hopefully later rather than sooner.”

Both teams have some replacements heading into this season.

Montee Ball will be the top running back for the Broncos after sharing duties with the departed Knowshon Moreno during his rookie season. Denver’s defense, which allowed 24.9 points per game last season, got an upgrade with lineman DeMarcus Ware and defensive backs Aqib Talib and T.J. Ward.

The Colts brought in ex-Giant Hakeem Nicks to add depth to their receiving corps. That group already boasts T.Y. Hilton, who is entering his third season after catching 82 passes for 1,083 yards and five touchdowns despite starting only 10 games.

Indianapolis also will have veteran receiver Reggie Wayne back after he tore his ACL in last season’s matchup with Denver.

The Colts traded a first-round pick for running back Trent Richardson last September, but he averaged just 2.9 yards per carry in 14 games and eight starts while struggling to pick up the offense.

With an entire offseason in Indianapolis under his belt, Richardson will combine with Ahmad Bradshaw to form what Pagano believes is a solid tandem.

“I have great confidence in those two and whoever we line up that when we hand the ball off, we’re going to be able to generate a run game,” Pagano said. “We have to be able to do that.”

No matter who is on the field – or off of it – for either squad, Manning is looking forward to getting started.

“Season opener, it doesn’t get much bigger than this except for the postseason,” Manning said. “I’ve always said that opening day is a playoff-type atmosphere.”

The Associated Press News Service


FREE PICK – Play on Indianapolis Colts +7.5

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