INDIANAPOLIS – What a way to kick off 2014.
Those NFL schedule makers certainly know how to create anticipation and that's exactly what they did with the Colts season opener.
Indianapolis will travel to Denver on Sunday night for a rematch of a shootout at Lucas Oil Stadium late last October.
Behind 23 unanswered points, the Colts held on to knock off Peyton Manning and the Broncos.
This year's meeting will have some significant faces missing, along with a few familiar ones joining the primetime matchup.
For the Colts there's no Robert Mathis. It was Mathis' second quarter strip/sack of Manning that sparked the Colts in last year's meeting. Mathis will miss the entire first month of the year, serving his four-game suspension.
Reggie Wayne will make his return to regular season action on Sunday night, about 10 and a half months after he tore his ACL during the fourth quarter of that Oct. 20 meeting between these two teams.
Denver is still led by the future first ballot Hall of Fame quarterback in Manning and a plethora of skill players.
Gone is leading rusher Knowshon Moreno (Dolphins) and second leading receiver Eric Decker (Jets).
Enter 2013 second-round pick Montee Ball and free agent receiver Emmanuel Sanders into the offensive fold.
Those two along with the returnees (Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas) gives Manning plenty of potency to challenge the video game type numbers he put up in 2013.
With the window closing on the Broncos, the team was big spenders this offseason.
New additions are all over the defensive side of the ball (OLB-DeMarcus Ware, CB-Aqib Talib and S-T.J. Ward) in trying to help a unit reach the top half of the league standings.
It might be Week One, but this is a matchup that we could very well see again with much higher implications come January.
*2013 Record: *13-3, 1st in the AFC West.
*Head Coach: *John Fox, 4th season as Broncos head coach and 13th NFL season as head coach (104-84 overall regular season, 8-6 playoffs).
*2013 NFL Rankings: *Offense – Overall, 1st (457.3); Rushing, 15th (117.1); Passing, 1st (340.3) Defense – Overall, 19th (356.0); Rushing, 7th (101.6); Passing, 27th (254.4).
2013 Leading Passer: Peyton Manning (450-of-659 comp., 5,477 yards, 68.3 pct., 55 TDs, 10 INTs).
*2013 Leading Rusher: *Knowshon Moreno (241 carries, 1,038 yards, 10 TDs).
*2013 Leading Receiver: *Demaryius Thomas (92 receptions, 1,430 yards, 14TDs).
2013 Leading Sacker: Shaun Philips (10.0).
2013 Turnover Breakdown: Even (tied for 14th in the NFL).
2014 NFL Draft Results: With the second-to-last pick in the first round, the Broncos nabbed a cornerback to put opposite Aqib Talib. Denver struggled on pass defense last year so the Ohio State product in Brandon Roby should help the backend. As if Peyton Manning didn't have enough pass catchers, the Broncos took IU wide receiver Cody Latimer in the second round. Lattimer caught five balls for 116 yards this preseason.
2013 Review:A Super Bowl loss the Broncos would love to forget marred a historic regular season. Denver won the AFC with a record of 13-3 and set numerous records on the offensive side of the ball. Thanks to a trio of 1,000-yard receivers and a nightmare matchup at tight end, Peyton Manning set an NFL record for single season passing touchdown with 55 scores.
Last time in Playoffs: 2013 season. Lost Super Bowl XLVIII, 43-8, to the Seattle Seahawks.
*Last time in Super Bowl: *2013 season. Lost Super Bowl XLVIII, 43-8, to the Seattle Seahawks.
*Super Bowl Championships: *Two. 1997 and 1998.
2014 Pro Bowl Selections:QB-Peyton Manning, K-Matt Prater, WR-Demaryius Thomas, TE-Julius Thomas and OG-Louis Vasquez.