Denver Broncos @ Indianapolis Colts: Manning to show Indy what they're missing

In-form Manning can silence the home fans

Romilly Evans expects a successful homecoming parade for Peyton Manning, as he returns to his former employers...

"While his apprentice is still learning, the sorcerer is simply spellbinding."

Denver Broncos @ Indianapolis Colts
Start-time: Monday, 01:30
TV: Live on Channel 4

The only story in town this week is the return of the prodigal son. Unlike his Biblical forerunner, however, Peyton Manning returns to Indianapolis unashamed of why he left. As a result, his former Indy family understandably don't know quite what to make of it. Should they applaud for the joy Manning brought them, or wallow in the misery of his wretched departure?

Either way, like many family reunions around Thanksgiving, this homecoming promises to be painful. Particularly for the Indianapolis Colts who may be left with a stadium of awkward silences after the all-conquering Denver Broncos have stampeded through Lucas Oil Stadium.

Manning, of course, is at the head of this impressive army - an offensive leader with precision passing and dazzling decision-making. Make no mistake, the Broncos are not a one-man band. But Manning has carried all before him this year, smashing NFL records along the way.

Manning Snr has completed a towering 22 touchdowns in his opening six games, while collectively their O has amassed 265 points. The Broncos have also won their last eight away matches, while another victory later tonight would tie New England's third-placed mark for straight regular-season wins at 18.

As you can see, all the stats are stacking up favourably in the Denver column. Still, on a night when emotions are sure to run high, it should be remembered that the man picked to replace Manning in Indy can throw some ball too. Andrew Luck may forever toil in Peyton's shadow but he is already just one 300-yard game shy of breaking into the top-three of all-time Indy passers in that category. Considering Luck is only 24, he is admirably bearing the burden of unrealistic expectation.

Luck, of course, is being ably assisted by unwavering wide receiver Reggie Wayne. And it's high time Trent Richardson stepped up to provide some viable running channels as well. But the real surprise gift has been the combined efforts of the Colts' no-name defense which, has restricted opponents like few others this term. On four others to be precise.

Denver used to be able to play on both sides of the ball, too. An imbalance has only come to light this season with the loss of Elvis Dumervil (to Baltimore) and Von Miller (to a six-game suspension). Miller's spell on the sidelines, though, ends tonight. And that could be the real clincher for the Broncos. Reports suggest that this principal linebacker in fresh and firing in practice, having added 15 pounds to his physical frame in the weights room.

Miller leads not by personality but by example on the field. Arguably, no-one in the NFL rushes the pass as effectively, while he also operates a fine line in sacks, should the QB dare to stray from the pocket when under Miller's watchful eye. His ability is premised on speed and versatility and he will both limit Luck's mobility and force Indy's wider offense to revise their blocking systems. That's no easy feat to assimilate in one week.

However, at the end of the day, regardless of whether Miller steps up, this will be about one man. Even Luck himself has admitted to idolizing Manning growing up - he once attended The Manning Passing Academy in Louisiana to get a glimpse.

Yet while his apprentice is still learning, the sorcerer is simply spellbinding. Manning is now on the verge of becoming the second quarterback (alongside Brett Favre) to defeat all 32 teams in the league. A punchy TD handicap won't stop him, especially with Wes Welker (himself on a franchise record for successive TD games) offering Manning some of his preferred shorter drop-offs as a means of maintaining consistent gains on downs.

Denver's downfield drives could be tearful and time-consuming for Colts fans. Much like his departure in 2011. Bring on the pain.

Recommended bets:

Back Denver Broncos (-6.5) to win on the Match Points Spread @ 2.111/10 or better
Back Denver Broncos (-3) to win on the First Half Points Spread @ 1.9110/11 or better
Back W. Welker to score First Touchdown @ 8.515/2 or better

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