After last week's doozy of a Thursday night game between NFC South powers New Orleans and Atlanta, the league schedule maker is throwing fans a lemon for Week 15 with the Denver Broncos and Colts meeting in Indianapolis. It's the only game of the week pitting two teams that have been eliminated from playoff contention.
But it doesn't mean it can't be enormous fun to watch for who chose to wager on it. This is not the worst midweek December matchup in recent years. Three seasons ago, in a game surely purged from fans' memory banks, the Titans and Jaguars met in Jacksonville with both having 2-12 records. The Jags won 21-13.
Now for a closer look at Thursday's game. The odds are courtesy of Westgate Las Vegas.
Denver Broncos (4-9) at Indianapolis Colts (3-10)
Time: 5:25 p.m. PDT
Line: Broncos by 2.5 (40.5)
Facts: Indy's Frank Gore, 34, the NFL's fifth leading career rusher, is coming off a 36-carry, 130-yard game Sunday in the snow at Buffalo. That was five more carries than in any previous game of his career and now he's working on extremely short rest. Six weeks ago, Arizona's Adrian Peterson, 32, the league's 12th all-time rusher, played on mega-short rest off a career-high 37 carries and 159 yards. In that ensuing Thursday game, he had 29 yards on 21 carries vs. Seattle... Indy will be facing the league's top-rated defense, which beat visiting NYJ on Sunday, 23-0. The Broncos held the Jets to 100 yards of offense, the lousiest total by a team in the past seven seasons... FYI: Indy's defense ranks 30th.
Analysis: Unlike most prime-time games, the home fans likely won't play a major role in giving their favorite team a jolt of adrenaline. Sort of like last Sunday when the Bears went into dreary Cincinnati and beat the Bengals 33-7 in front of a lot of empty seats. The Colts can't help but be suffering on offense with Gore unlikely to provide much help after such a heavy workload. And then there's QB Jacoby Brissett, by far the league's most-sacked QB (48). Denver, meanwhile, will be going with second-year quarterback Trevor Siemian, who played error free last week and improved to 4-5 this season. If the Broncos don't have to play from too far behind, he's capable of another workmanlike, winning game.
Forecast: Broncos 20, Colts 10