Free Sunday NFL Week 1 Picks: Colts vs Broncos (9/7/14)

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Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos
Date and Time: Sunday, 9/7/14 at 8:30pm on NBC
Game Line: Denver Broncos -7.5 (from WagerWeb)
Over/Under: 55
Colts at Broncos Sunday NFL Football Analysis: Denver’s first defeat last season came in Manning’s return to Indianapolis, a 39-33 loss last October.  The focus for Manning heading into this matchup, though, is how the Broncos will be able to overcome the loss of Wes Welker, who was suspended for the first four games after he violated the league’s performance-enhancing drugs policy.  Colts owner Jim Irsay won’t be able to see how it turns out this time around either. He’s been banned from contact with the Colts for the first six games and was fined $500,000 for a DWI he received in March.  Manning has thrived in Denver while leading the Broncos to back to back 13 win seasons. He set NFL records with 55 touchdown passes and 5,477 yards in 2013 before a 43-8 loss to Seattle in the Super Bowl.  Peyton and company will need to overcome the losses of Welker and Eric Decker with leading receiver Demaryius Thomas, former Steeler Emmanuel Sanders, and emerging tight end Julius Thomas.  Montee Ball will be the top running back for the broncos after sharing duties with the departed Knowshon Moreno during his rookie season.  Denver’s defense, which allowed a relatively high 25 points per game last season got and upgrade with defensive end DeMarcus Ware and defensive backs Aqib Talib and T.J. Ward.  How this unit meshes together will be the key to the success to the 2014 version of the Denver Broncos.  On the other side of the football, Andrew Luck hopes to continue taking steps toward being one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.  He has led the Colts to back to back 11 win seasons since taking Manning’s spot under center.  He helped them overcome a 28 point deficit in the third quarter of a 45-44 playoff win in over Kansas City in the first round of the playoffs last year before losing to New England the following week.  The Colts brought former Giant Hakeem Nicks to add depth at receiver.  A group that already boasts T.Y. Hilton and a healthy Reggie Wayne.  The two big question marks for the Colts come at two positions that need to be strong if you’re going to win a game at Mile High, running back and defensive secondary.  The Colts traded a first round pick for running back Trent Richardson last September but he averaged less than 3 yards per carry in 14 games last season.  The Colts back seven was also a problem last season, allowing 357 yards per game.  Having shortages in these two facets of the game will make it very difficult for the Colts to keep up with the Broncos in the first Sunday Night Football game of the season.

 NFL Picks: Broncos -7.5 and under 55

Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos Game Prediction: 30-20 Broncos
What to expect in this Week 1 NFL Football match up: The Indianapolis Colts are going to take a step backwards in 2014 as the offensive and defensive lines got worse and not better.  Without a strong running game it’s very hard to go into the altitude of Denver and keep up with Peyton Manning and the Bronco offense if you can’t run the ball effectively and keep the Bronco offense on the sideline.  The Bronco’s new weapons on the defensive side of the ball will have a big impact and the Broncos will prove they are ready to make another Super Bowl run in their first game of the season, on Sunday Night Football.

Lou Palumbo is the founder and part owner of the Sports Handicapping Community. He's been writing and posting free picks and sports handicapping strategies on the Cappersinfo forums and website for 15 years now. He enjoys handicapping just as much as he did from the very first day he built the original Cappersinfo website.