Today's game

Pro Football

January 04, 2004|By Los Angeles Times

AFC wild card

Denver (10-6) at Indianapolis (12-4)

Time: 4:30 p.m.

TV: Chs. 13, 9.

Line: Colts by 3.

Record vs. spread: Broncos 8-8, Colts 9-6-1.

Series: Broncos lead 10-4.

Last meeting: Broncos won, 31-17, on Dec. 21 in Indianapolis.

Story line: QB Peyton Manning and the Colts have had an outstanding season but need to advance deep into the playoffs to rekindle respect. Two weeks ago in Indianapolis, Denver crushed the Colts, with the Broncos posting a 465-183 edge in total offense. Denver coach Mike Shanahan has a 7-2 playoff record.

When the Broncos have the ball: After sitting out to rest an ankle injury, RB Clinton Portis should be back at full strength. He has emerged as one of the NFL's best runners and makes the Broncos' play-action passing game, with mobile QB Jake Plummer, more effective.

When the Colts have the ball: Everything starts with Manning's ability to call audibles at the line of scrimmage. Once Manning gets into rhythm, he's able to work the Colts' multi-target offense to perfection. RB Edgerrin James spearheads the Colts' rushing game, and Marvin Harrison is Manning's go-to receiver.

Bottom line: Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy has a suspect record when it comes to having his team ready to play, but the Colts will not lose twice to the Broncos at home.

Injuries

BRONCOS-Questionable-WR Ed McCaffrey (concussion). Probable-RB Reuben Droughns (ankle); CB Kelly Herndon (hand); DT Darius Holland (ribs); G Dan Neil (ankle); RB Clinton Portis (ankle); T Ephraim Salaam (knee).

COLTS-Out-TE Dallas Clark (ankle). Questionable-S Cory Bird (shoulder); S Mike Doss (ankle); LB Marcus Washington (chest). Probable-S Idrees Bashir (shoulder/arm); CB Cliff Crosby (groin); CB Nick Harper (back); CB Walt Harris (knee); LB Jim Nelson (collarbone); TE Marcus Pollard (knee); RB Dominic Rhodes (knee/shoulder); CB Donald Strickland (back/shoulder).

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