The 2014 NFL season kicked off with the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks beating the Green Bay Packers rather easily on Thursday Night Football action. And while that game was full of entertainment value and the Legion of Boom doing what they do best on defense, I think the real game of the week will go down a little more than 48 hours later when Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos host Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night.
NFL Game of the Week
Indianapolis Colts @ Denver Broncos
Sunday, 8:30 PM ET
Odds: Broncos -7.5
Manning and Luck are primed to put up outstanding numbers once again this season, and all eyes will be on the quarterbacks when the MVP goes up against the rising star that succeeded him in Indianapolis just three years ago. Last year, the Broncos were huge favorites going into Indy – unfortunately they were cut up by a relentless Colts defense and a well-oiled offensive attack led by Luck, losing by less than a TD when it was all said and done.
Manning is coming off an MVP season in which he threw for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns, but the Broncos were humiliated in their Super Bowl loss to the Seahawks and now the road to redemption begins on Sunday night. The entire Denver offense is motivated and primed for a big performance, and Manning will be eager to upstage his successor.
Luck has exceeded expectations since he was drafted first-overall by Indianapolis in 2012, and the numbers he has recorded throughout his first three NFL seasons are better than Manning’s numbers at the same point in his career. However, the Broncos have built a strong supporting cast that is primed to make another run to the Super Bowl while the Colts still have far too many holes on both sides of the football.
Don’t forget that this is also a revenge game as the Colts were one of the few teams to beat the Broncos in the regular season last year (39-33). Also, while many people are pointing to the Broncos’ losses of Wes Welker, Danny Trevathan and Matt Prater, the Colts’ loss of Robert Mathis is the most significant.
My Pick: Denver Broncos @ -7.5
Underdog NFL Play of the Week
Tennessee Titans @ Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, 1:00 PM ET
Odds: Chiefs -4
The Chiefs bounced back in a major way under head coach Andy Reid last season, but they could regress towards the mean in year two. Kansas City lost several key pieces on both sides of the ball and will also be without No. 1 receiver Dwayne Bowe in week one due to suspension.
Tennessee isn’t a playoff team right now, but they have flown under the radar throughout the preseason and could come through as a sleeper pick as the Ken Whisenhunt era begins. Whisenhunt will get the most out of a healthy Jake Locker and given that the Titans have the potential to win this game straight up, they should at the very least be able to keep this game close and cover the spread.
My Pick: Tennessee Titans @ +4
Two-Team 7-Point Teaser of the Week
The Saints are a legitimate threat in the NFC with an elite offense led by Drew Brees and an improved defense that added three-time All-Pro safety Jairus Byrd in free agency. Atlanta still has too many holes along the offensive line and on defense to be considered a legitimate playoff threat, and New Orleans will exploit those holes. Applying the seven-point tease to the Saints makes them a +4 play in a game they will win straight up.
The tease also moves the Bears to a pick’em at home against a Buffalo team that faces major question marks on offense and at the quarterback position in particular. Jay Cutler and the Chicago offense will put up big numbers in this game, and EJ Manuel and company simply won’t be able to keep up.