Broncos out to protect house

Unbeaten Colts were last team to beat Denver at home during regular season

No one comes into Denver and beats the Broncos at Invesco Field. At least not any NFL team that has tried in the last 13 games.

If ever there was a team equipped to knock off the Broncos, it would be the undefeated Indianapolis Colts, who will roll into town for a matchup of two preeminent AFC teams.

Denver (5-1) has gathered a head of a steam in recent weeks, while the Colts are just the ninth team in NFL history to put together back-to-back 6-0 starts.

Something clearly has to give.

The two teams last faced each other in the final week of the 2004 regular season and then in the first week of the playoffs. The Colts had called off their dogs in the finale to gear up for the postseason and Denver slid into the playoffs with a win.

The Colts are well on their way to claiming the AFC South again, while the Broncos are atop the AFC West. Just six games into their season, the Colts are three games above the rest of the competition in their division.

“You don’t win division championships in September or October,” Colts coach Tony Dungy said a day after a 36-22 victory over the Washington Redskins. “You get yourself ready to go. You build your momentum. You want to be playing better. I know our veterans understand that. Really, you want to play your best football in November and December.”

Colts quarterback Peyton Manning is racking up Hall of Fame statistics by the week. Last week, he passed Dan Fouts and Sonny Jurgensen for 10th all time in touchdown passes.

He will get one of his toughest challenges to date in Denver, facing off against Champ Bailey, the Broncos’ talented cornerback. Bailey has three interceptions this season and 32 throughout his Pro Bowl career.

While the Broncos have kept five straight opponents under 10 points, Manning threw four for touchdowns last week, finding his favorite target, Marvin Harrison, twice for scores.

Conversely, Denver has its own offensive weapons — albeit less flashy than those of Indianapolis — who should test the Colts’ speedy but vulnerable defense. Running back Tatum Bell rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown last week in a win over the Cleveland Browns. Quarterback Jake Plummer threw for 205 yards and a touchdown.

“Indianapolis is known for their offense,” Plummer said. “They have a good defense to go along with that. [Against the Browns], we played a great first half. The third and fourth quarter, we moved the ball a little bit and made some bad decisions. You can’t have that against a team like Indianapolis.”

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