INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts will head back to the stadium they kicked off the 2014 campaign in this weekend with the stakes a bit higher in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
While the storylines will center on Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning squaring off for the third time in two seasons, this Broncos attack is built a bit differently than they were in previous meetings.
Running back C.J. Anderson has been the Broncos lead back over the past two months with at least 83 rushing yards in six of the final eight games of the season.
In the 2014 offseason, the Broncos made a concentrated effort on improving the defensive side of the ball with some key additions.
They've reaped the benefits with five Pro Bowlers on that side of the ball, led by the cornerback duo of Aqib Talib and Chris Harris.
How the Broncos choose to use Talib and Harris this week will be something to watch against the Colts pass catchers.
While the run game and the top-five defense have been staples in Denver earning the No. 2 seed in the AFC, the pass catching group is still the most diverse in the NFL.
Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, a pair of receivers with at least 1,400 yards, pace the wide receiver group.
Wes Welker, who missed the season opener, hasn't had his typical season in 2014, but will be back in the slot this weekend.
Tight end Julius Thomas had three touchdown receptions back in the Broncos 31-24 victory in Week One but hasn't been the same player since suffering an ankle injury in Week 11.
In the season opener against the Colts, Denver jumped out to a 24-0 lead and led 31-10 with 9:54 remaining in the fourth quarter.
A comeback was coming from though. Indianapolis was driving in Broncos territory, down seven points, before turning it over with just under two minutes remaining.
The Colts 408 total yards of offense back on September 7, would be just the second time all season that Denver's defense allowed an opponent to eclipse the 400-yard mark.
With a win on Sunday, the Colts would have their first postseason road win since a Divisional Round victory over the Baltimore Ravens en route to Super Bowl XLI.
*2014 Record: *12-4, 1st in the AFC West.
*Head Coach: *John Fox, 4th season as Broncos head coach and 13th NFL season as head coach (119-89 overall regular season, 8-6 playoffs).
*2014 NFL Rankings: *Offense – Overall, 4th (402.9); Rushing, 15th (111.6); Passing, 4th (291.3). Defense – Overall, 3rd (300.9); Rushing, 2nd (69.3); Passing, 9th (231.6).
2014 Leading Passer: Peyton Manning (395-of-597 comp., 4,727 yards, 66.2 pct., 39 TDs, 15 INTs).
*2014 Leading Rusher: *C.J. Anderson (179 carries, 849 yards, 8 TDs).
*2014 Leading Receiver: *Demaryius Thomas (111 receptions, 1,619 yards, 11 TDs).
2014 Leading Sacker: Von Miller (14.0).
2014 Turnover Breakdown: Plus 5 (tied for 11th 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 was the selection. As if Peyton Manning didn't have enough pass catchers, the Broncos took IU wide receiver Cody Latimer in the second round. Lattimer has yet to see ample action in a deep receivers group this season.
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.
2015 Pro Bowl Selections:QB-Peyton Manning, WR-Demaryius Thomas, TE-Julius Thomas, OT-Ryan Clady, CB-Chris Harris, CB-Aqib Talib, S-T.J. Ward, DE-DeMarcus Ware and OLB-Von Miller.