ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – The Broncos began their season playing the Colts and they will look to begin their playoffs with a second win over Peyton Manning's former team.
The teams will face off again next Sunday at 2:40 p.m. MT in the divisional round of the playoffs.
DeMarcus Ware said it's important to look back on that Week 1 matchup to determine what made the team successful.
"If you played against one of those guys that were on there—let's say a tackle or a guard or whatever—as a defensive lineman, you're going to stay the same," said Ware, who sacked Andrew Luck 1.5 times in Week 1. "You've also got to see how and where you didn't play well and make sure those things are corrected before the game. You know they're going to go in and say, 'Hey, they didn't do this well' or 'This is where we can attack them,' so it's like a chess match. You've got to make sure you have your King and all the other guys in the right spot to make sure you play the game."
The Broncos defeated the Colts 31-24 despite a near-comeback led by Andrew Luck. The chess game will continue on Sunday and the stakes will be higher.
"It's the playoffs and it's win or go home," Thomas said. "They are going to come in and play hard and we have to do the same thing and try to keep going."
The Colts finished this season with an 11-5 record and defeated the Bengals in convincing fashion, 26-10, on Sunday to punch their ticket to Denver. Steven Johnson called their Week 1 matchup "a tough, gritty game." He said the Colts kept fighting until the very end of the game, where they came back from a 31-10 fourth-quarter deficit to pull within seven.
"It's a good matchup," Johnson said of the Colts. "They know what to expect when they come out here. They're a good, strong team led by Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton and those guys on offense. They're going to bring their best effort. So we're going to have to practice very hard this week and be able to put it together."
While the cores of the teams are the same, a lot has changed over the course of the season, Jacob Tamme said.
"Andrew Luck's one of the best young quarterbacks in the game," Tamme noted. "They got some guys on the edge on defense that can be hard to handle. Their special teams with [Pat] McAfee and [Adam] Vinatieri and all their guys do a good job on special teams. So it's going to be a good challenge for us and we're looking forward to getting into the film and checking them out closer."
But the Broncos have two significant advantages as they face the Colts – the bye week and home-field advantage.
The Broncos were in desperate need of a break as their bye week was in Week 4. The Broncos were bruised and exhausted. A break this weekend was the ideal respite.
"Yeah I think we had a lot of guys that could use a little bit of rest, could use a couple days off; a lot of guys getting treatment for little nicks and knacks and little things like that, that after a long season of football, everyone's got," Tamme said. "So I think it was really good for us. I felt great. Today we had a good lift, a good workout. It felt good to get back into it. It was a good break."
And speaking of that home-field advantage, Sports Authority Field at Mile High has been good to the team. The Broncos finished the season with their sixth-ever undefeated home record. Once again, the Colts will play the Broncos in Denver.
The Broncos had a conditioning session on Sunday and are getting ready for an intense week of preparation now that they know who their opponent will be.
"You've just got to look at every game as you never know what team you're going to get and it's in the playoffs," Ware said. "It's do-or-die."