Indianapolis-Denver: Five Things To Know
We have seen this before. Star player leaves team to be replaced by rookie upstart. Then with a stroke of luck – no pun needed – the two superstar players meet again with more on the line than just a causal game of, “I’m better than you.”
The torch has yet to be passed between Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck, but the game this weekend in Denver could be another opportunity to see greatness not just from the man who seems to own the phrase, but the protégé who has fans in Indianapolis hoping he can capture some of his predecessor’s magic.
As some have said, Andrew Luck must win against the Denver Broncos this weekend, not only to keep his team alive in the NFL playoffs—that's a reason every quarterback finds himself in a similar must-win situation this time of year—but to really start to earn the esteem he's been given after three years in the league.
For Manning, the win fuels his passion for another Super Bowl appearance, but it also dispels the drama associated with a one-and-done scenario.
Here are five things you need to know about this game on Sunday afternoon.
REGGIE WAYNE WANTS TO BEAT MANNING
The two were teammates in Indianapolis – now they are rivals. Reggie Wayne has many great memories of his time catching passes from Peyton Manning. Now, he wants to beat his former quarterback.
“I could tell you about Andrew Luck; that sticks out,” Wayne said on ESPN.com. “[Manning's] on the other team right now. I’ll holler at him later. Right now, it’s all about [No.] 12.”
Wayne did soften up a little bit about Manning. He was asked if it’s still weird seeing Manning in another team’s uniform. Manning is in his third season with the Broncos.
The Colts placed guard Hugh Thornton on injured reserve this week, a move that took care of their only injury concern for the week.
All 53 Colts on the active roster practiced on Thursday and wide receiver Reggie Wayne’s regular rest day was the only thing standing in the way of full participation on Friday as well. Seven players do appear on the injury report, but all are listed as probable for Sunday’s game in Denver.
MARSHALL GETTING BETTER
Defensive linemen Mitch Unrein and Quanterus Smith joined weakside linebacker Brandon Marshall as players who practiced on a limited basis during Thursday's practice.
The Broncos added Unrein and Smith to the injury report because of knee injuries. Beyond those three defenders, everyone else on the roster had full participation, including quarterback Peyton Manning and tight end Julius Thomas.
Although Thomas has just three receptions for 63 yards since returning to game repetitions from the ankle injury he suffered in Week 11 at St. Louis, Head Coach John Fox said that the fourth-year tight end is where he needs to be physically.
NOT THERE YET
While he had a great season, Andrew Luck has not been anointed yet as “Super.” But he is getting close.
"He'll go down as the greatest quarterback of all time," Fassel said, according to Chris Wesseling of NFL.com. "The numbers he has already put up as a young quarterback, far superior to anybody else that came in the league in their first four, five or six years the numbers he's put up. If he keeps at that pace ... Whoa!"
Luck still has a very long way to go before he can be put into that conversation, and he'll likely need a couple of Super Bowl rings to go along with those lofty numbers. However, considering the strides he's made in just three seasons, Luck has the potential to surpass the likes of Manning and Joe Montana by the end of his career.
The game is in their house. The game is against Peyton’s former team. The game is the first step back to a Super Bowl appearance. While there have been times this season that Manning seemed mortal, this will not be one of them.
Look for Denver to win this game and move on to the AFC Championship game against New England.
DENVER 38 INDIANAPOLIS 27