Our Indianapolis Colts are in Denver this week for Thursday Night Football. As the team’s first prime-time game approached, I caught up with Ian St. Clair of Mile High Report, SB Nation’s Denver Broncos blog. Ian can be found on Twitter @IanStClair. We traded questions about the Colts and Broncos and the following is what I learned about this week’s enemy.
Cris: I have to ask that question because that’s at least 50% of what I think of when I think of the Broncos this season. While I’m sure most Broncos fans love having Russell Wilson around, he might be the most trusted personality in the NFL, how do Broncos fans deal with the “Mr. Unlimited” live?
Ian: This is one of those cases where you take the good with the zany. If he was bad like Drew Lock or some of the other QBs we’ve had to put up with since Peyton Manning retired, that would be too much. What makes it even worse is that he doesn’t know he’s trustworthy. Or Wilson does it and he just plays 3D chess. But added to the good is what Wilson is already doing in the Denver community. Every week, he visits the children’s hospital and gives these children a reason to smile. I’ll take the grind for what he does to help so many kids.
Cris: In four games, the Broncos have given up fourth-fewest yards and fifth-fewest points in the NFL, while the offense is 21st and 29th, respectively. It seems fair to assume the defense has carried the team up to this point. Are the offensive struggles a surprise to Broncos fans?
Ian: It’s a fair assessment. But apart from the victory over the San Francisco 49ers, it’s not like Wilson and the Broncos’ offense were “bad.” In the first two games in particular, Wilson and the offense just couldn’t finish practices. Of course, when the offense starts to come together against the Las Vegas Raiders, the defense stays at the casino to gorge on the buffet. The Broncos defense was expected to slip a bit, but not as much as against the Raiders. And it was only a matter of time for Wilson and the offense to finish the drives. It would just be nice to see both sides of the ball finally complement each other.
Cris: Bookmaker DraftKings has the Broncos as 3.5 point favorites. Is that fair or should the Broncos be the biggest favorites?
Ian: That number seems fair to me. When you consider where both teams are at this point, plus the fact that the Broncos are at home. This is probably the main reason why the spread is where it is. If this game was in Indy, I would think the line would be Denver -1 or even a pick’em.
Cris: It has been announced that Randy Gregory and Javonte Williams will miss Thursday’s game (and Williams the rest of the season). Do you expect to see a lot of change on either side of the ball given these losses?
Ian: Those are two huge losses for the Broncos, and in completely different ways. The loss of Gregory hurts right now, while the loss of Wiliams will be felt as the season progresses. Gregory got off to an amazing start, and the Broncos aren’t exactly loaded with point players. Replacing Gregory’s exit with a rookie or sophomore just isn’t going to happen. But the loss of Gregory will also have an impact on Bradley Chubb. Now, instead of having to block two guys who got off to a good start, the Colts can charge in to slow Chubb down. As for Williams, he hadn’t really done much in the first four games, but Denver will feel his loss for the rest of the season. Of course, this also means that Melvin Gordon will get the ball more, which means a high chance of fumbles. He has fumbled four times in four games this season. If you go back to Week 17 of last season, Gordon fumbled five times in five games. Adding Latavius Murray should help, but not on Thursday.
Cris: Early reports indicate the Broncos offensive line has been a liability so far this season, despite a great effort. How did they struggle, and should Colts fans expect to see the defense go after Russell Wilson on Thursday night?
Ian: That’s an understatement. Denver’s offensive line has been terrible to start the season. There have been a few flashes, especially against this 49ers defense, but for the most part, it’s just been bad. It was bad at pass blocking. It’s been bad in race blocking. So at least it’s consistent in that regard. There were very few times Wilson had a clean pocket or a running back was untouched or behind the line of scrimmage. And it’s not like an aspect or a player is holding the line. It’s the inside guys and the tackles. Now the Broncos have been plagued by injuries with right guard Quinn Meinerz struggling with a hamstring injury since Week 1 and right tackle Billy Turner yet to see the field this season. If one or both are available on Thursday, that should help. But Colfs fans should still expect to see steady pressure on Wilson throughout the game.
I thank Ian for taking the time to answer my questions and make this article possible. This game seems to be between two teams teetering on the edge. Neither team has lived up to their pre-season expectations, and both teams have an equal chance of winning this game.
Thursday night games are awful, and they should be eliminated every week except Thanksgiving. The NFL will never do it, but it should. I believe this game will come down to a war of attrition. These guys just played a few days ago, and players from both teams are going to get hurt tonight. This game could go either way, I really believe it’s impossible to predict, and I’m sure he won’t tell us more about these teams once the game is over. because it’s a Thursday night game.
The only bet I will consider taking is Michael Pittman Jr. to hit his over to receive yards. No matter what you do with your money, you can find updated lines on DraftKings Sportsbook.