'Thursday Night Football' streaming, TV, picks: Your Broncos-Colts need to know
This matchup isn't quite as glamorous as it looked when the schedule was released in the spring
This summer, back before we knew Andrew Luck wouldn't take a single snap this season, or Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch would make Broncos fans miss Tim Tebow, the final "Thursday Night Football" matchup of the 2017 regular season looked great on paper.
In reality, it's a matchup between two of the league's worst teams. Both the Broncos and Colts occupy last place in their respective divisions, both have already been eliminated from the playoffs and if not for the Cleveland Browns, they would be the AFC's two worst teams. Other than jobs for next season -- and that includes both players and coaches -- there really is very little to play for.
With those realities out of the way, let's look ahead to a game where the biggest impact could be on the 2018 NFL Draft position.
How to watch, stream
Broncos are on a one-game winning streak
Hey, when you're 4-9 on the season, any winning streak is noteworthy. Last week, the Broncos dominated the almost-as-hapless Jets 23-0 thanks to an efficient effort from Siemian, who finished 19 of 31 for 200 yards and a touchdown, and a suffocating defense that logged four sacks, forced two turnovers and held the Jets to 100 total yards.
It was the Broncos' first win in eight games that spanned 70 days. The last victory came in Week 4 over the Raiders, which pushed Denver to 3-1 on the season. Little did anyone know that two months later they would hit rock bottom against the Dolphins before finally rebounding against New York on Sunday.
"It feels like 100 years [since the last win]," Siemian said.
Cornerback Aqib Talib added: ''It's been a long time coming. We were due for a win. We ain't THAT bad.''
In truth, it was just 480 minutes of losing football. During that time, however, the Broncos led for 12 minutes, 36 seconds and they had 16 more turnovers than takeaways.
The Broncos still have serious questions about their quarterback situation. For now it's important to find out if Siemian can be a reliable backup should the team look elsewhere this offseason for a starter (and we can't envision a situation where they don't). A big part of any success the third-year quarterback might have will be determined by offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave.
"I thought Bill called the game to win [Sunday]," first-year coach Vance Joseph said, via ESPN.com. "I thought Bill called the game to help us minimize mistakes, he helped call a game to help us keep drives alive and to keep the third downs manageable. It was fun to see."
Put another way: Balance is key. The Broncos ran the ball 35 times against the Jets.
"We just get that rhythm sometimes," running back C.J. Anderson said. "We didn't have some big runs and we missed some things we'll look at. But it felt like we had the tempo where we wanted it."
Colts' Chuck Pagano finds himself in a familiar spot
That spot would be the late-season hot seat. The Colts will have their first losing season under Pagano, who arrived in 2012, the same year the team used the first-overall pick on Andrew Luck. But this is the first season Luck didn't see the field, though he battled injuries in 2015 and 2016, when the team twice finished 8-8. With three games left in the Colts' season, Pagano sounds unconcerned about his future, whether it's in Indianapolis or elsewhere.
"You know what you got into," Pagano said Monday, via ESPN.com. "That's all I've known forever. The shelf life for these jobs isn't long. You embrace every single opportunity, every single day, every single game to get to go to practice with these guys and grind, work and compete and play games. So it's a blessing. You can't sit there and poo-poo and worry. I'm good. I'm good."
In a surprising move, the Colts signed Pagano to a four-year extension in January 2016, and at the same time extended the contract of then-general manager Ryan Grigson. A year later, Grigson was fired and Pagano's days could be numbered too.
As for the idea that Pagano and the Colts would prefer to lose to improve their draft position, the coach invokes Bill Belichick.
John Elway tries to balance winning, looking to the future
Broncos general manager John Elway isn't used to all this losing. He won two Super Bowl as Denver's quarterback and earned another after the 2015 season. This year has been disappointing by any measure and Elway knows the offseason will be about upgrading and revamping the roster. For now though, he's trying to strike the balance between evaluating young players for next year (and beyond) while still winning games.
"We're going into every game and that's what we get paid to do, is to try to win football games and to go out and compete," Elway said Monday in an interview with Orange and Blue 760, via the Denver Post. "We're in the entertainment business. We play 16 games and it's important that we all go out and play the best we possibly can. That's how we'll try to finish the year out. ...
"There are some situations where we'll try to get some younger guys in," he continued. "I don't know exactly which ones just yet, but I think you're always trying to figure out how they're going to play when they get in real-game situations. You see them in practice every day, but it's not game-like situations, especially the way we practice. If there's an opportunity for us to kind of get in evaluation on a younger kid and still giving us a chance to win then we'll do that."
Old-timers are rare bright spots in forgettable Colts season
Frank Gore is 34, which in running back years is closer to 74. Kicker Adam Vinatieri is 44. For some perspective, starting quarterback Jacoby Brissett was eight years old when Vinatieri made the most important kick in Patriots history, the 45-yarder in a blizzard during the Tuck Rule game back in January 2002.
Gore rushed 36 times for 130 yards in last week's snow-globe game in Buffalo and is now just 238 yards from reaching 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons -- and in six of the past seven. (And the one season Gore fell short of 1,000, in 2015, he rushed for 967 yards.)
"If I do that, that would be real big," Gore said, via the Indianapolis Star. "I've been told since I was 28 what I can't do or [that I] will fall off this year. I'm out there and I'm still going and still having fun and showing people on film that I can play this game."
Meanwhile, after honking a 33-yarder early in the game -- and to be fair, the miss had everything to do with the conditions...
... Vinatieri bounced back to convert the greatest extra point in NFL history:
But in a season full of disappointments, perhaps it's no surprise that the missed 33-yarder could end up costing Vinatieri.
It's Color Rush Thursday (again), y'all!
Every Thursday is Color Rush Thursday in the NFL. You're welcome. Here's what the Broncos and Colts will wear:
They said these words
Vance Joseph, explaining why he stuck with Siemian, who was benched in Weeks 9-11 before returning to the lineup in Week 13.
"Trevor's won this job two years in a row. He's won this job because he's very smart, a tough guy and he's an accurate passer. To get Trevor back under center after one week and to simply bench him again wasn't fair in my mind and it wasn't right for our football team. Our offensive issues have not been on one person or player. ... I was proud of how he managed this football game. ... To stick with Trevor, that was easy for me and he's earned that right."
'TNF' comes to Amazon
After Twitter hosted several "Thursday Night Football" games during the 2016 season for live streaming, it lost a bid for the NFL's 2017 streaming package to Amazon, which is streaming 10 Thursday night games during the season for Amazon Prime members. You can.
Here are the games available for streaming from Amazon:
- Week 15: Broncos at Colts, Dec. 14 at 8:25 p.m. ET
- Week 16: Steelers at Texans, Dec. 25 at 4:30 p.m. ET
Who ya got?
"This isn't a very good Thursday night game, but the Broncos at least showed they have some fight last week in beating the Jets. I think that carries over here with Denver coming up with a big defensive effort to win on the road." --.
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