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Believe the hype

Colts-Patriots, Manning-Brady deserves the build-up

Posted: Tuesday October 31, 2006 4:24PM; Updated: Tuesday October 31, 2006 4:48PM
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Peyton Manning (18) and the Colts beat Tom Brady's Patriots 40-21 last season.
Peyton Manning (18) and the Colts beat Tom Brady's Patriots 40-21 last season.
Al Tielemans/SI
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Five quick observations about this week's must-see showdown between Indianapolis and New England:

1. Manning-Brady VIII. There can't be enough hype.

2. If you're Indy, and you've been breaking down tape of the Patriots, that Monday-night game had to throw you for a loop. Before the 31-7 win at Minnesota, New England had a 51-49 run-pass ratio this season. Monday night the Pats routed a quality team, on the road, with a 25-75 run-pass ratio. Pass plays: 46 (43 throws, three sacks). Run plays: 15. And they win by 24. Tony Dungy has to be shaking his head trying to figure out a way to attack this offense.

3. Speaking of head coaches shaking their heads, what must Bill Belichick be thinking of game-planning against Peyton Manning? In Indy's 40-21 rout of the Pats last year, Manning completed 76 percent of his throws for 321 yards and three touchdowns, and it was 28-7 Colts midway through the third quarter. And coming off how the Colts played Sunday in Denver, dominating a defense that previously had been dominating, Belichick and his defensive coordinator need to go into the laboratory to figure out a way to stop Manning. My guess is that the strategy will have something to do with being very, very physical with Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne.

4. This year's game: Nov. 5. Last year's game: Nov. 7. The Pats are 6-1, Colts 7-0 this time. Last year the Pats were 4-3, Colts 7-0.

5. Much will be made of these two stats this week: Since taking over as coach of the Patriots in 2000, Belichick is 9-2 against Indy. And Tom Brady is 6-1 against Manning. But remember this: In the last 21 months the Patriots and the Colts have met once. The game was in Foxboro. And Indianapolis won by 19. I'd be more concerned about that one than I would be about the previous matchups if I were analyzing this game.

Now on to your e-mails.

TIKI STILL IN THE NEWS. From Rich Dennelly of Smithtown, N.Y.: "Tiki's retirement is as big a distraction as the Bus' retirement was for the Steelers last year, and that's coming from a Jets fan. Now to my question: The Jets may not have deserved to win the game, but they at least deserved a fair call. What do you think the call would have been if the name on the back of the jersey were Owens, Johnson or Rice and not Baker?''

I don't think it matters. Believe me, the officials on the field are a lot more afraid of what the New York office is going to say to them than what Terrell Owens would.

HE STILL HAS HOPE FOR THE PACK, AS DO I. From Jim of Madison, Wis.: "An addendum to your point in MMQB about all four of the Jets' wins coming against one- and two-win teams: My beloved Packers' three wins have all come against one-win teams (Lions, Dolphins, Cards), although their four losses have all been at the hands of NFC playoff contenders (Bears, Saints, Eagles, Rams), so I am still holding on to a shred of optimism.''

You should have a little hope. The line is blocking better every week, and Brett Favre is having fun and playing competitively. My thought? That Saints loss is going to be the killer when December rolls around.


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