Highest Total On
The sportsbooks expect a shootout between these two as the total of 55.5 points on NFL odds is by far the highest on the board of any Week 1 game. Not surprising when you consider that Denver set the NFL record for points last year as Manning set league marks for passing yards and touchdowns. However, the last time he took the field he was under siege from the get-go in the 43-8 Super Bowl loss to Seattle. The Seahawks' 35-point victory tied for the third-largest margin of victory in Super Bowl history. Manning threw for 280 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. His 34 completions were a Super Bowl record but the vast majority of those were in garbage time. Receiver Demaryius Thomas set a Super Bowl record for most catches with 13.
Denver essentially took control of the 2013 regular-season story line on opening night when Manning tied an NFL record with seven touchdown passes in a 49-27 home rout of then-defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore. The Broncos lost at home just once last year, in Week 15 to San Diego when Denver was held to a regular-season low 20 points. Manning actually had a slightly better rating on the road last year. He lost one of his favorite targets this offseason when Eric Decker (87 catches, 1,288 yard, 11 touchdowns) signed with the Jets. Denver replaced him with Pittsburgh's Emmanuel Sanders (67 catches, 740 yards, six touchdowns). The team also lost top running back Knowshon Moreno. The Broncos really beefed up on defense, adding end DeMarcus Ware (Dallas), cornerback Aqib Talib (New England) and safety T.J. Ward (Cleveland). It's also likely that first-round pick Bradley Roby, a cornerback from Ohio State, starts Day 1. It's possible that Ward will be suspended a game or two. He was recently charged with simple assault and disturbing the peace after an incident at a Denver nightclub.
The Colts are heavy favorites to win the AFC South again at sportsbooks but will be without their best defensive player for the first four games in linebacker Robert Mathis. He led the NFL last season with 19.5 sacks in finishing second to Carolina's Luke Kuechly for Defensive Player of the Year. Mathis is appealing the suspension, but no one expects that to be victorious. The positive test was for a fertility drug he was taking. The Colts didn't have a first-round pick in the 2014 draft, a result of the Trent Richardson trade early last season. Second-round pick Jack Mewhort is likely to be an opening-day starter at right guard. The Colts also added a weapon for Luck in former Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks.
One of the most-hyped games of the 2013 season was Week 7 when Manning made his return to Indianapolis. The Broncos were unbeaten at the time but lost 39-33. Manning threw for 386 yards and three touchdowns, but also threw an interception and fumbled, which led to a safety. He was sacked four times and hit many others. It was the most harassed he was all season until the Super Bowl. Decker had eight catches for 150 yards and a 17-yard score. Denver had three turnovers overall and committed 12 penalties. Luck was terrific, throwing for 228 yards, three scores and no picks. He also rushed for a 10-yard touchdown. The Colts led 33-14 at one point before the Broncos tried to stage a late rally. That was the game in which Luck lost leading receiver Reggie Wayne to a season-ending injury.
NFL free picks: Manning is going to be doubly motivated for this one: Payback for the loss at Indy last year in what was clearly an emotional game for him and redemption for the Super Bowl. Broncos win by double digits in your NFL picks. The Colts are 0-6 ATS in their past six openers.