INDIANAPOLIS, IN - In a downtown packed by football fans and lit in blue on Saturday night, devotees of both teams are equally excited about seeing Peyton Manning's return to Indianapolis. The oddsmakers and even several reluctant Colts fans said they expect to see him lead the Broncos to a victory.
The 284-foot Indiana Soldiers and Sailors Monument was bathed in blue lights, and a neighboring office building used neon to light their windows in public support for the Colts.
But spots of Denver orange were found there too.
Tyson Newman's daughter Kirsten threw an elbow when her father, a Colts fan, predicted Manning would cause the Broncos to lose with a pick-six. She was wearing a Von Miller jersey
"Irsay shot his mouth off. I think we (will) win by double digits," said Rob Seeley, a Highlands Ranch resident attending his fourth Broncos road game this season.
"Roof open, roof closed, it doesn't matter," said Mark Novak, a Broncos fan from St. Louis, in reference to the retractable roof of Lucas Oil Stadium. The weather is expected to be in 50-degree range at game time here.
"Luck is not from Alaska either," Novak added.
For the record, the NFL reported Manning won 65 percent of outdoor games while he was playing home games in the controlled conditions of the RCA Dome and Lucas Oil Stadium. With the roof closed, he won even more.
The contention over the high-profile Sunday night game sold out Indianapolis hotels.
Virginia teacher Matt Parker and federal employee Steve Harris are among the Colts fans gathered for the game. The two became friends last year because of a conversation started by their mutual love of the team.
Harris bought their tickets in an internet auction.
"Even though I was furloughed, I bought this stuff," he said.
Jeff and Janna Parker bought season tickets this year because of their special desire to see this particular game. It didn't bother them that they live in Calgary, Canada -- almost 1,800 miles from Indianapolis.
"We just love the Colts," Jeff Parker said, predicting they win 37-33 on the strength of defensive scores.
His wife disagreed, saying, "I think it's going to be higher scoring."
Colts Grille server Emily Henson talked about the city's ongoing love and admiration for Peyton Manning, who continues to have a big charitable impact. She hopes the team respect's the intelligent play of the two quarterbacks on the field tomorrow, but doesn't believe either will be the key to victory.
"We're not going to win by beating Peyton," she said. "We're going to win by beating everybody else."
Still, the Broncos are favored by 6.5 points in the oddsmakers' books.
"I've got a bad feeling Denver is going to take it," said Michael Wong.
His friend, Cory George, said it would be "the game of the century," before wavering, "or at least of the generation."