Peyton Manning Must Rely on Running Game in Order to Have Success vs. Colts

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent IOctober 19, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 15:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos hand off to running back Knowshon Moreno #27 of the Denver Broncos during the first half of their game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on September 15, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Ron Antonelli/Getty Images)
Ron Antonelli/Getty Images

Although he's been on fire through the first six weeks of the 2013 season, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning will need to rely on his running game on Sunday night if he's to make his return to Indianapolis a successful one.

Manning and the Broncos have yet to face a defense as stout as the Colts' unit, which ranks fifth in the league against the pass coming into Week 7. 

On top of allowing just 206 passing yards per game, Indy's secondary has surrendered just five touchdowns through the air while recording seven interceptions. On the other hand, Greg Manusky's defense has proved extremely vulnerable against the run.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 06:  Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks is taken down by Jerrell Freeman #50 and Kavell Conner #53 of the Indianapolis Colts during a game at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 6, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Jona
Jonathan Moore/Getty Images

The Colts have only allowed just four rushing touchdowns all year, but they are giving up chunks of yardage on the ground, equating to 132 yards total on average. That's why Denver must look to hand the ball off early and often this weekend.

While Manning is experienced and accurate enough to open up Indy's secondary and create opportunities in the passing game, he'll need to lean on Denver's 15th-ranked rushing attack in order to keep the chains moving and the Colts offense on the sideline.

The Broncos are averaging 115 rushing yards per game this season and boast three quality backs who can beat up the Colts' front seven. Knowshon Moreno and Ronnie Hillman are both averaging more than four yards per carry in 2013, while rookie Montee Ball has rushed for nearly 140 yards through six weeks.

Relying on his running backs to make second and third down easier will open up the play-action pass and possibilities throughout the playbook for Manning and his teammates. 

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 13:  Running back Knowshon Moreno #27 of the Denver Broncos rushes with the ball and eludes strong safety John Cyprien #37 of the Jacksonville Jaguars at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 13, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. The
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Plus, No. 18 has shown he can be human at times this October, tossing an interception in each of his past two outings. By calling on his backs to carry the load offensivelyat least early onManning will give Denver's offense a better shot of wearing down Indy's D and ultimately forcing the Colts to crack in crunch time.

With the Colts surrendering 4.6 yards per carry, the Broncos are sure to have tremendous success on the ground so long as they commit to the run. 

More so than Manning's brilliance, Denver's offensive balance is what makes the Broncos a legitimate threat to win it all this year, and Manning and Co. will need to demonstrate that balance on Sunday night if they hope to remain unbeaten. 


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