Andrew Luck and the Colts face Peyton Manning and the Broncos Sunday in the AFC Divisional round.
Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck will go head-to-head Sunday for the third time since Luck took over for Manning in Indianapolis in 2012. The teams split the first two matchups with the home team winning each game.
Here are two storylines to watch for and the top stats to know heading into the AFC Divisional round.
Statistical storylines to watch
Manning in the red zone
No quarterback was better in the red zone than Manning during the season’s first 12 weeks. Manning completed 78 percent of his pass attempts and posted a Total QBR of 97 on plays that started inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. Both numbers were the best in the NFL.
Manning completed 13-of-15 passes with nine touchdowns to tight end Julius Thomas alone. However, Thomas doesn’t have a red zone target since his Week 11 injury and Manning’s red zone numbers have declined dramatically.
Over the last five weeks of the regular season, Manning completed 39 percent of his red zone passes (13-for-33) with a Total QBR of 18. The completion percentage ranked 30th and the Total QBR was 22nd out of 32 qualified quarterbacks. Only Blake Bortles and Robert Griffin III had lower completion percentages in the red zone during that span.
The Broncos dropped from having the second-highest red zone efficiency in Weeks 1-12 (74 percent) to ranking 24th in the final five weeks (44 percent).
Manning’s go-to receiver during the last five games of the regular season was wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. Thomas led the NFL with 16 red zone targets down the stretch (twice as many targets as the next-closest Broncos receiver), but only came down with one of those passes. Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and Oakland Raiders tackle Donald Penn had the same number of red zone receptions as Thomas during that span.
Andrew Luck vs. Broncos OLB
Luck’s postseason career has been a tale of three cities. In Indianapolis, he is 2-0 with a Total QBR of 90. In Baltimore and Foxborough, he is 0-2 with a Total QBR of 29.
Miller and Ware combined for 24 sacks in 2014 and led a Broncos defense that finished the regular season ranked sixth in pressure percentage (28 percent of dropbacks).
Most Sacks Per Game Since 1982
The two rank among the top six players in NFL history in terms of sacks per game.
The offensive line of the Colts will have its hands full, but it may be up to the task.
The Colts ranked behind only the Green Bay Packers in pass protection percentage - which measures the percentage of pass plays where the offense controls the line of scrimmage – at 54 percent. They ranked seventh in pressure percentage, allowing pressure on 22 percent of their dropbacks.
Top stats to know
1. Manning will be making his 24th career postseason start, which will tie Brett Favre for the second-most by a quarterback in the Super Bowl era (since 1966).
2. This was the second time in Manning’s career where he went 8-0 at home for a season. The other instance was in 2006, when he took the Colts to a Super Bowl title.
3. Andrew Luck has three straight 300-yard games in the postseason, one shy of tying Hall of Famer Dan Fouts for the longest streak of its kind in NFL postseason history.
4. Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton has been targeted 13.3 times per game in four career playoff games, most among receivers in the last 10 seasons.
5. Colts receivers dropped 33 passes during the regular season (most in NFL). They dropped three more Sunday against the Bengals.
Did you know?
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Manning will join Ken Stabler as the only quarterbacks to face a team in the playoffs that they previously won a Super Bowl with. Stabler won with the Raiders and played against them with the Oilers.