PFF Preview: Colts @ Broncos, Divisional Round
The AFC South champion Indianapolis Colts defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in a Wild Card matchup last weekend at Lucas Oil Stadium. The divisional round matchup boasts a greater challenge for them, however, as Chuck Pagano’s squad will travel to Denver to take on the AFC West champion Broncos. This highly anticipated matchup is a rematch of the Week 1 bout that began the Sunday Night Football schedule this season. Denver came out on top in that contest, riding a first-half offensive surge to a 31-24 victory.
Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck will have to be at his best against a tough Broncos defense. The third-year rising star was just that last weekend against the Bengals, earning PFF’s highest QB grade for the week (+5.7) to accompany his 8.5 yards per attempt and 104.0 QB Rating. For the season, Luck led all quarterbacks with 4762 yards and 40 touchdowns. He also ranked second at his position with 12 touchdowns on passes thrown 20 yards or more downfield and had the sixth-highest Deep Passing Accuracy (47.7%) in the regular season. It’s worth noting that although Luck threw for 370 yards against Denver in Week 1, he also had two interceptions.
The Broncos’ stingy secondary will look to slow down the Colts’ quarterback this Sunday. In their season-opening meeting, cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. combined to earn a +3.7 coverage grade and produced four pass defenses. The duo has formed quite the partnership in 2014. Harris was our best cornerback in coverage (+27.2) while finishing the regular season on top of his position with 0.57 Yards per Cover Snap as well. If Harris and Talib continue their strong play into the playoffs, Luck might have trouble finding open receivers this weekend.
Anthony Castonzo – The Colts’ top offensive lineman only allowed two sacks in the regular season and ranked eighth among offensive tackles with a 96.5 Pass Blocking Efficiency grade. Castonzo was perfect in pass protection last week against the Bengals.
Pat McAfee – This special teams weapon (and PFF Special Teams All-Pro) had 70 touchbacks from his 96 kickoffs and was our second-highest rated punter in the regular season at +35.6.
Vontae Davis – He had a strong outing against Denver to open 2014, earning a +1.5 coverage grade. His 15.5 coverage snaps per reception ranks him second among cornerbacks this season.
Erik Walden – This defender is usually known for his strong play against the run, but the outside linebacker had a strong day rushing the passer against Cincinnati last week. Walden accumulated three QB hurries and one hit on Andy Dalton.
C.J. Anderson – Since Week 10, no other running back in the NFL has graded higher than Anderson’s +19.2. He has forced 54 missed tackles and earned 70.5 Elusive Rating in that span.
Derek Wolfe – Has been stout in run support this season, only missing four tackles and earning a 9.0 Run Stop Percentage, which ranks him fourth among 4-3 defensive ends.
Julius Thomas – Caught the injury bug to close out the regular season, but scored three touchdowns against the Colts in the initial matchup and had 11.4 yards per reception in 2014.
Von Miller – Among the finalists for PFF’s Defensive Player of the Year, his 71 total pressures placed him second (behind only Justin Houston) among linebackers (4-3 or 3-4) in the regular season, while leading all 4-3 linebackers with a +33.6 pass rush grade.
Emmanuel Sanders – Everyone talks about his partner Demaryius Thomas, but Sanders had possibly the better season of the two. The first-year Bronco only dropped 2 passes on 140 targets, while his 119.6 Wide Receiver Rating ranked him fifth at his position.
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