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Talk pro football with SI.com's Andrew Perloff in Huddle Up, a forum to discuss the hottest topics around the NFL.
11/17/2006 03:38:00 PM

Colts won't go 16-0

Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning and the Colts finished 14-2 last season after jumping out to a 13-0 start.
Damian Strohmeyer/SI

I don't think the Colts will lose one game this year. They'll drop at least two, maybe three.

Don't get me wrong, I think Indy is an amazing team. But the fact that they didn't take their A game into matchups against the likes of Tennessee and Buffalo, makes me believe they'll drop one or two contests to teams they should beat.

Oddsmakers say Indy is about a 6-1 underdog not to finish perfect. What looked like an easy remaining schedule for the Colts seemed to get tougher overnight. This week's opponent, the Cowboys, are rejuvenated with new quarterback Tony Romo. Then the Colts face an Eagles team that dismantled the Redskins last Sunday; they visit Tennessee -- who they beat 14-13 in Week 5; a trip to Jacksonville; a home game against Cincy; at Houston; and the finale against the Dolphins in Indy.

Tennessee, Houston and Miami all look like different teams than they did the first half of the season. And the Dolphins are defending the honor of the 1972 team -- the Bears found that out the hard way. The Colts should beat them all, but if they aren't focused on those games and are looking forward to the postseason, they could easily trip up. And Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy told SI.com's Michael Silver he won't deviate from last year's course, when he rested his starters at the end of the season.

While researching teams that have challenged the '72 Dolphins' perfect season, most players from teams that came close seemed relieved when they lost. And many of them went on to win the Super Bowl, which is clearly all that matters to the Colts.

Like last year, Indianapolis will get caught looking ahead at the end of the season and Nick Buoniconti and the gang in South Florida will rest easy. But hey, I'm just the guy who said Tom Brady was overrated, so what do I know? Let me know your take on whether the Colts can go undefeated.

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11/13/2006 12:01:00 AM

Picking Peppers

Quick. You can pick one player to build a team around, but he's gotta be a guy on defense. Who is it?

Not so easy when you take offensive stars like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady out of the equation (note: if you read this column before, you'll understand why my bosses will never again allow me to write about Brady).

I asked SI.com's NFL writers for their one defensive guy. Jeff Chadiha chose Tommie Harris, Michael Silver went with Champ Bailey, Don Banks picked Shawne Merriman and Peter King tabbed Julius Peppers.

You can't go wrong with any of those players, but I would choose Peppers in a second. Every time I see him he makes plays he absolutely shouldn't be making. He can get from one side of the field to the other faster than any other big man in the NFL. He's relentless and has a knack for being around the ball. Most importantly, he's getting better and, at 26, is having his best year.

He entered the weekend tied for third in the NFL with eight sacks, but he's gone two games without a sack -- both losses. I think Peppers has a shot to move up on the sacks list tonight against Tampa Bay. With veteran tackle Kenyatta Walker injured, the Bucs turn to rookie Jeremy Trueblood to try to slow down Peppers. Obviously, Trueblood will get help, but Peppers has owned Tampa Bay in the past and should get to Bruce Gradkowski multiple times.

The Panthers have actually led going into seven of eight games this year and probably shouldn't be 4-4. You haven't heard their name much when talking about NFC Super Bowl hopefuls. But with the Falcons and Saints looking vulnerable, Carolina has a good shot at capturing a division it was supposed to win. If that's going to happen, it starts with Peppers tonight against Tampa Bay. Prediction: Carolina 23, Tampa Bay 17

Let me know which player you would start a team with and how you think the Panthers will fare against the Bucs.

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