Denver (7-0) leads the NFL in almost every major category and hasn't given up a first-quarter point all season. An interception return for a touchdown and a fumble recovery run back for a TD produced the decisive scores in the Broncos' first two wins. Last week, they befuddled Green Bay's potent offense by holding MVP Aaron Rodgers to 77 yards passing.
Now they'll face an Indy offense that has played so poorly Pep Hamilton lost his job after the Colts' third straight loss.
Andrew Luck has thrown a league-high 12 interceptions and was added to the injury report Wednesday with an undisclosed ankle injury. Receivers have struggled to get open, the offensive line has had trouble protecting Luck, and Indy (3-5) has been shut out in the first half four times this season.
At first glance, it looks like a mismatch. But the Colts do have one advantage: the element of surprise.
And nobody's saying much about how things might change under new play caller Rob Chudzinski.
"We're just going to try to clean things up that need to be cleaned up, fine-tune some things, simplify and give these guys a chance to go out there and execute at a high level and not think, and just play," coach Chuck Pagano said.
It's a stark contrast to the last meeting between Manning's current team and his old one. Back then, in the divisional round of the playoffs, Manning was struggling and the Broncos were eliminated – a game Denver has not forgotten.
"That's my motivation. I mentioned that to the defensive line earlier today," defensive end Derek Wolfe said. "I said, `Don't forget. These guys knocked us out of the playoffs last year, so don't sleep on them.'"
This defense won't – even if it is not entirely sure what to expect Sunday afternoon.
"Our expectation is to come out every week and shut the opposing team down," Ward said. "We're mad if we give them a field goal. That's our goal every week – no points."