Thursday Night Football: The Colts and Broncos clash in a battle of underachieving teams

Thursday Night Football: The Colts and Broncos clash in a battle of underachieving teams


Nathaniel Hackett (left) and Russell Wilson

Nathaniel Hackett (left) and Russell Wilson
Photo: Getty Images

Week 5 of the NFL season is upon us, and the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos get us started on Thursday Night Football. Entering the season, these teams were seen as prime contenders in the AFC, especially in their respective divisions. So far, it hasn’t been that good for either squad, which makes this game even more crucial.

Entering the season, Denver was talked about as possibly taking over the AFC West from the Kansas City Chiefs and, after four games, that couldn’t be further from the truth. If we’re being honest, the Broncos are lucky to be sitting at 2-2. Russell Wilson and the offense look like they’re stuck in the mud playing like it’s still the preseason.

Wilson has one game this year where he’s thrown for over 300 yards, and that was the Week 1 loss to Seattle. Since then, he hasn’t topped 240. Denver scored 16 points twice, 11, and 23 points last week in the loss to Las Vegas. The defense is ultimately why the Broncos have been competitive in any of these games.

There’s plenty of blame to go around on the offensive side for Denver. Sure, the Broncos allowed the Raiders to score 32 points last week, but that happens when your defense is on the field 10-minutes longer than the offense. The Broncos were just 3 for 11 on third downs, Wilson was sacked three times, and the offense punted five times.

Whatever the deal is between Wilson and rookie head coach Nathaniel Hackett needs to be resolved pronto. We’re a month into it, and they still can’t seem to get on the same page. You don’t bring a quarterback like Wilson in and take the ball out of his hands in clutch situations. That’s what Hackett has done far too often early in the year. If you must fail, let it be on the shoulders of the Super Bowl-winning Pro Bowl QB you traded multiple players and draft picks to acquire.

Indianapolis was projected to be the class of the AFC South by many. That has not been the case, as they’ve also started a new QB era (another one), ridding themselves of Carson Wentz and bringing in former league MVP Matt Ryan. Once again, the Colts were off the mark and a couple years too late in bringing in a veteran QB to reap the full benefits of his experience. They brought in Phillip Rivers for his final year in 2020, and he was good but far removed from the player he was with the Chargers. They took a chance on Wentz last season, and he’s in Washington now.

The Colts went for the trifecta this year by bringing in Ryan, who is also way past his prime. It wouldn’t be so bad if All-Pro running back Jonathan Taylor wasn’t off to such a sluggish start. Taylor rushed for 161 yards in Week 1 against the Texans, which ended in a tie. Since then, he’s gained 167 yards on the ground in three games. And things just got worse, as Taylor’s been ruled out of this Thursday Night matchup with an ankle injury. So now the Colts won’t even have the threat of Taylor on the field, which counts for something.

Besides a shocking upset win over the Chiefs in Week 3, there hasn’t been much good out of Indy for Colts fans. Your stud runner hasn’t been able to get it going, and now he’s out with an injury. And the QB you brought in as an upgrade hasn’t been what you’d hoped coming into the season. In fairness, Ryan has been better the past two weeks, but it yielded just one victory. It was a noteworthy one over Kansas City, but one big win over a juggernaut doesn’t get you into the postseason.

Knowing what to expect from these teams is hard since both offenses are hampered. One team’s coach and lack of chemistry are holding them back, and the other features an over-the-hill QB and a star rusher who will be watching from the sideline. Because of all that, this will likely turn out to be an entertaining high-scoring affair, simply because no one expects it. Denver should get the win at home if Hackett stays out of the way and lets Russ cook. Okay, it’s been more of a simmer lately, but let the man do what he does best. 



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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.