Thursday, December 4, 2008

We've moved (Sort of) to

This will be the last post at

As part of our long-promised arrangement with, you can now find us as part of their network.

The good news...there's plenty.

1. It's the same 18to88 as always. No changes.
2. We are easier to find than ever. Just type in

The articles from the old front page aren't linked up yet, but they soon will be. You'll finally be able to find ALL of in one place. Conveniently enough known as:

So just to be 100% clear:


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Brackett: out. Deshawn: depressed.

The news that the emotional and mental leader of the Colts defense is out (likely for the rest of the regular season) with a broken leg is crushing news. For a team that has already had to deal with a back breaking run of injuries over the past 14 months, this one is especially painful because the Colts are likely starting something called a Buster Davis instead of a Pro-Bowl caliber MLB who excels in coverage. I'm not going to get into the merits of this seemingly insane move, because I'm sure Tony has his reasons for it. Still, the downgrade from Brackett to a guy who has spent most of the season on the inactive list is huge. Couple this with the loss of Dawson for a couple of weeks, and the future doesn't look bright. The Colts will probably still win these next three games simply because their opponents are among the dregs of the NFL. Still, any hope we had of seeing this team finally get healthy and come together to play at the level we all believe them to be capable seems gone.

If Gary Brackett is truly done for the season, I can't imagine the Colts beating any playoff team. Even Denver. Yes. He's that important. I suppose we might see something truly insane like Bob Sanders playing MLB, with Bullitt on the field for the playoffs if Brackett can't go. I don't think the Colts would try this in the regular season because of the injury risk for Sanders, but in a pinch, it would at least get their best available players on the field all at once.


Demond Sanders: Check out the latest MVP rankings from Bucky Brooks. He's got three of my five, and I certainly can't fault him for having Eli at the top spot. He's got Portis and Peterson on the list, which I understand. They have very similar numbers and they both star for teams with a limited passing game. I'll consider adding them next week, but I'm not totally sold on them yet. Peyton is nowhere to be found, which isn't a surprise. He is going to look a lot better after Sunday.

My Five Favorite Grandpa Ted Moments

In driving around town the last couple of days, I put on my audio copy of Super Bowl XLI. It happens to be the last game in which Ted Marchibroda served as color man. A quick listen to the tape reveals well as some of the most unintentionally funny moments in broadcast history.

1. Ted insists on referring to Bob Sanders as Robert throughout the entire broadcast.
2. Ted refers to great seasons by "so many players" including someone named "Alvin Betheeeah"
3. During Bob Lamey's monologues recapping the season, Ted spends the entire time mumbling incoherent assent with everything Bob said. No matter what Bob said, Ted would reply, "mmmhmmuh youahr righ".
4. In the broadcast of the AFC Championship game, Ted was so excited to pointout that Fletcher had a mismatch in his favor that he almost comes out of his shoes pointing it out after Peyton hit him with the huge pass down to the NE 38.
5. After a Ben Utech catch he inexplicably says, "He looked it right into his chest and dropped it. You can't just catch every one with your hands". One play later, Manning would through a TD to Reggie Wayne. Ted attributed it to a major mistake by the Colts secondary.

I'm not trying to pick on good old Ted. I just found it hilarious, that's all. He's a good man, and valued member of the Colts community...but it's a good thing he's not in the booth any more.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008

MVP Update

This week was a debacle for most of the MVP favorites. As a result there has been a signifcant shake-up in the order and the addition of a player who was nowhere to be found last week. You could put these five players in almost any order and I would not argue. Peyton is ranked first based on the fact that his next two opponents are a combined 1-22. There is a ton of football left to play and the pressure is on each player to distinguish himself.

1.) Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts
Stats: 19 TDs, 12 INTs, 2948 YDs, 85.3 Rating
Team Record: 8-4, 2nd place AFC South
Last week: 2 INT in a win at Cleveland
Remaining Games: CIN, DET, @Jax, TEN

Manning's stats took a big hit this week, but remarkably his MVP stock rose. The race is far from over, and he will need to pad his stats over the next two weeks. Peyton is certainly aware of the opportunity in front of him. Don't expect to see much of Jim Sorgi as Manning subtly guns for the award.

2.) Eli Manning, New York Giants
Stats: 19 TDs, 8 INTs, 2624 YDs, 91.3 Rating
Team Record: 11-1, 1st place NFC East
Last week: 1 TD, 1 INT in a win at Washington
Remaining Games: PHI, @Dal, CAR, @Min

Little brother has better stats and more wins, but that alone won't be enough. He'll need to keep it up and hope the other contenders struggle down the stretch. The media and fans have slowly warmed to Eli and thus an MVP award would only be a minor upset.

3.) Kurt Warner, Arizona Cardinals
Stats: 24 TDs, 11 INTs, 3741 YDs, 99.4 Rating
Team Record: 7-5, 1st place NFC West
Last week: 3 TD, 3 INT in a loss at Philadelphia
Remaining Games: STL, MIN, @Pats, SEA

I could have dropped Warner much farther, but I think Peter King was harsh enough for the both of us. I think the Cardinals are a fraud and Warner has played poorly in their toughest games. Sadly, I can still see a path to the MVP for him because of a relatively friendly remaining schedule (3 of 4 at home).

4.) Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
Stats: 21 TDs, 8 INTs, 2559 YDs, 103.2 Rating
Team Record: 8-4, 2nd place NFC East
Last Week: 3 TDs, 1 INT in a win over Seattle
Remaining Games: @Pit, NYG, BALT, @Phi

Romo is having another great season, despite missing three games with a hand injury. Dallas went 1-2 with Romo out. He is currently the NFL's highest rated passer. He would be much higher on this list if Dallas didn't have a difficult remaining schedule. Don't be surprised to see Romo rising to the top.

5.) Brett Favre, New York Jets
Stats: 20 TDs, 14 INTs, 2708 YDs, 90.4 Rating
Team Record: 8-4, 1st place AFC East
Last week: 1 INT in a loss to Denver
Remaining Games: @SF, BUF, @Sea, MIA

Favre has plenty of time to make up for his unspectacular play against Denver. His remaining schedule is favorable so there is no reason to count him out.

Others in the conversation: Matt Ryan (needs stats), Adrian Peterson (needs wins), Michael Turner (needs stats)

If you have any names to add to the list please shout them out.

Head on over...

to Stampede Blue for a nice little clash over whether or not the Colts are 'average'. Some one has taken exception to my statement last night. I defend it (rather conclusively) in the comments below.

For the record, I said they were average with an 'it' quality. It's not much of an explanation, but then again, I don't really have one. The Colts are 8-4. They probably shouldn't be, but 18, 93, and 98 have been amazing all year. Without any one of those guys...I don't want to even think about what the record would be. Anyway, enjoy the debate.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ok, so let's speak of it one more time...

So here's a quick postmortem of one of the least satisfying wins in recent history. These observations are in no particular order.
  • The day actually turned out great for the Colts, as they now are assured of a playoff spot by going 3-1. They may not need that extra loss, but it's nice to have it in the back pocket.
  • The Jets got a a lot of pub for whipping the Titans, and then stank at home. I think the moral of this story is the Titans aren't as good as people think they are.
  • Oddly enough, Manning came out of his worst game in solid shape in the MVP race. All the other major QB candidates had really bad games AND lost. Brees is done for sure, as two picks in the final 2:30 cost his team the game. Favre was exposed, and Warner sucked on national TV (sort of). Manning didn't play well today (although the game looks different if Wayne hangs onto that TD pass), but ultimately his one turnover (not three as reported some places-the hail mary was irrelevant and the Colts actually recovered his fumble). In the end winning matters. Basically the whole race is more screwed than ever as the Skins lost too, which dings the Portis campaign. It may come down to Eli by default, though I haven't heard anyone mention him. Maybe APete goes nuts tonight.
  • This team needs Jeff Saturday on the field. Richard played fine, but couldn't handle his matchups on too many plays. Still, no sacks today, so he didn't fail miserably.
  • Anyone notice that I haven't said one negative word about Charlie Johnson in weeks?
  • We missed the passes to the RBs today. Addai had to stay in on blitz pick up (which he did wonderfully). I don't know if that was scheme related or because the Colts didn't trust Richard.
  • I said at the time that passing on the FG was a mistake at half time, and I was right. The weather made this game nearly impossible to score in, and you can't turn your back on points. Those three points would have changed the complexion of the second half.
  • Whipping boys Session and Jennings both had very nice games. The Colts pass D held Cleveland under THREE YARDS A PASS. That's insane.
  • Freeney and Mathis. Nothing else needs to be said.
  • The Browns are awful. Derek Anderson's trade value is at the same level as the Loch Ness Monster...they don't exist. If this game had been played on a calm day, it's not even close. Outdoor football in bad weather isn't fun. It's pointless.
  • The Cleveland DBs made a couple of nice plays in this game. It almost was the only aspect of the game they played well in. Actually the LBs closed the holes pretty will on our running backs. There was space at the line, but it disappeared at the next level.
  • Ultimately, the Colts are still an average team on the field that has some kind of special 'it quality'. Every week either Manning saves us, or Mathis/Freeney does. Those three players are operating at an other-wordly level that seems to make the difference in close games. This team is 8-4, but won't truly roll until it gets Saturday and Sanders back. On top of that, now we have worry about Brackett and Dawson. Fun.
  • Once Indy took the lead, we all knew there was no chance in hell for the Browns to score. Anderson was awful. He made exactly one really nice throw all day.
Ultimately, winning beats the hell out of losing. Imagine how we'd feel today if that had gone against us.

Don Banks this is a good kind of win.

CHFF says the D is a winner.

I don't think he put it right, but this season at least, Perloff is right. Manning's three worst games were the wind games at GB, Tennessee, and Cleveland. It's not the elements, it's the wind. Manning's won plenty of bad weather games, but he struggles to run this offense this year in the wind. The lack of a consistent run game is part of the reason.

PK elevates Manning to the top spot. When you look at his list, how can you argue?

Let's never speak of this again

Colts 10 - Browns 6

Colts/Browns Live Game Blog

Once again, if you know you are going to participate, please email us at, and we'll send you a panelist invite.

Please limit comments to mostly complete sentences about the game and try to limit exclamations.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Eye've been busy

Hey, so what if Eyes in the Backfield is super late today. No one is reading this on a holiday weekend anyway, right? Here's a preview:

Another week, another miracle. In what once seemed to be a lost season, the Colts have stormed back to three games over .500 with a chance to put themselves on a serious roll. All that stands in front of them is a matchup with the inexplicable Cleveland Browns. The Browns are not devoid of talent, as proven by their prime time thrashing of the Giants, but still flounder near the bottom of the league, prompted up only by the Bengals in the AFC North. This week watch for:

1. Watch for the back-up who's really the starter, but only temporarily ...probably. The biggest story swirling around the Browns is their inscrutable QB situation. Two drafts ago, they traded up for Brady Quinn, only to start Derek Anderson (after trading Charlie Frye after one game). They then didn't trade Anderson, but rather signed him to a long term deal before benching him midway through the season, thus killing his trade value. They stuck with Quinn for two and a half games before head coach Romeo Crennel benched him mid-game and brought Anderson back. Now, Quinn is gone for the season with a finger injury, and the Browns have Anderson back. God only knows what Anderson is going to do on Sunday, but Colts fans certainly hope that he'll be as utterly confused by the cover-2 as he has been by his role in the Browns future.

2. Watch third down. Peyton Manning slaughtered the Chargers on third down last week and the Colts are once again leading the NFL in third down conversion percentage. Manning has made it brutal on teams trying to get the Colts off the field. The Browns have been better on third down than on first and second, which is usually the sign of a team that is actually worse than their record. That's a scary thought for Browns fans.

Check out the rest here.

Thanksgiving Leftovers...

The holiday prevented us from doing the podcast (shocker!), so here's my thoughts and observations leftover from the Chargers game:

3-1-IND 42 (6:10) 18-P.Manning pass deep middle to 87-R.Wayne to SD 32 for 26 yards (32-E.Weddle). Clark and Addai stay in on max protect to pick up the blitz. Wayne beats a double team off the P/A fake
3-2-SD 25 (:20) (Shotgun) 17-P.Rivers pass deep left to 80-M.Floyd to IND 44 for 31 yards (33-M.Bullitt). 6 man blitz, LT picks off on of them. No one gets there. Bethea gets beat in single coverage which is obviously a bad matchup.
1-10-IND 44 (9:40) 18-P.Manning pass deep middle intended for 88-M.Harrison INTERCEPTED by 23-Q.Jammer at SD 11. 23-Q.Jammer to SD 11 for no gain (88-M.Harrison). Great pocket, the ball was terminally underthrown, unless there was some route issue we can't know. Bad throw.
3-7-SD 14 (8:46) (Shotgun) 17-P.Rivers pass deep middle to 80-M.Floyd to SD 37 for 23 yards (31-K.Ratliff). Rivers slides wide of Freeney, as both ends cut to the inside. This left no one pursuing Rivers to the back side (think Rosenfels in Houston on the Mathis play). It's a simple hole in the zone on coverage.
1-10-IND 39 (5:05) 17-P.Rivers pass deep middle to 83-V.Jackson for 39 yards, TOUCHDOWN. P/A fake, no rush at all. Brackett just can't get deep enough. Either Bullitt or Bethea was late coming over.
3-1-IND 38 (4:13) 29-J.Addai left tackle to SD 39 for 23 yards (32-E.Weddle). Great block by Reid, and Addai cuts back inside.
3-2-SD 13 (:43) (Shotgun) 18-P.Manning pass short left to 11-A.Gonzalez for 13 yards, TOUCHDOWN. It's a simple pick play that was legal thanks to the defensive chuck on Wayne.
3-12-IND 14 (11:08) (Shotgun) 17-P.Rivers sacked at IND 24 for -10 yards (98-R.Mathis). FUMBLES (98-R.Mathis) [98-R.Mathis], RECOVERED by IND-79-R.Brock at IND 25. 79-R.Brock to IND 34 for 9 yards (79-M.Goff). One of the plays of the game for sure. The D made two great run stops to set up the passing down. Mathis flat beats his man, and Rivers tries to slide (see play 5) and starts to square his body to throw. Big mistake there Phil.
3-4-SD 46 (8:10) (Shotgun) 18-P.Manning pass short right to 11-A.Gonzalez ran ob at SD 17 for 29 yards (42-C.Hart). No rush, AG is wide open due to an ankle breaking juke. This was a Harrisonesque route by Gonzo. He's getting better all the time.
4-1-SD 1 (3:54) (Shotgun) 18-P.Manning pass short left to 38-D.Rhodes for 1 yard, TOUCHDOWN. Simple juke and cut by Dom, with EXPLOSIVE speed out of the break. Ugoh blocks no one, but 18 still gets the TD.
2-6-SD 48 (1:44) (Shotgun) 17-P.Rivers sacked at SD 45 for -3 yards (sack split by 98-R.Mathis and 68-E.Foster). Freeney beats the double team, and Mathis and Foster clean up the mess.
3-7-IND 45 (14:04) (Shotgun) 18-P.Manning pass incomplete short middle to 44-D.Clark (42-C.Hart). PENALTY on SD-42-C.Hart, Defensive Pass Interference, 5 yards, enforced at IND 45 - No Play. Manning is pressured (Ugoh gets beat again), and throws four yards short of the first down. The confusion on the PI call is becuase it was called on the wrong guy. 20 actually does interfere with Clark. He's chucking Gonzo, who drives him into Clark as he makes his cut. Thus the DB contacts the intended receiver which is...Pass interference. Tough call, but a right one.
3-12-IND 48 (13:35) (Shotgun) 18-P.Manning pass deep left to 11-A.Gonzalez ran ob at SD 33 for 19 yards (42-C.Hart). This is just a sick throw as Gonzo beats the zone.
1-10-IND 45 (9:30) 17-P.Rivers pass deep right to 83-V.Jackson to IND 27 for 18 yards (58-G.Brackett, 26-K.Hayden). Great throw and catch by the Chargers. Hayden plays it perfect, and even tries to jump the route. No complaints. The Bolts earned this. Great D, better O.
3-1-IND 39 (4:06) 29-J.Addai up the middle to IND 37 for -2 yards (95-S.Phillips, 94-J.Tucker). Phillips just abuses Dallas Clark to make the play. CJ and Ugoh had the play blocked for a first down run, but Joe never had a prayer. Dallas barely touches him.
3-15-IND 42 (1:49) (Shotgun) 17-P.Rivers pass short left to 86-B.Manumaleuna to IND 29 for 13 yards (23-T.Jennings). Freeney stunts to force the check down (again...Rivers got scared of him in the second half). Jennings and Bethea ALMOST blow the tackle. At the end of the play Norv utterly loses his mind.
Timeout #1 by SD at 01:35.
4-1-SD 48 (:26) 18-P.Manning pass short left to 88-M.Harrison to SD 34 for 14 yards (23-Q.Jammer). See note at the end of this list.

3-9-SD 33 (:02) 4-A.Vinatieri 51 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-48-J.Snow, Holder-17-H.Smith. Money.

Some thoughts on the big fourth down conversion: Almost everyone but the Colts screwed up this play. First, I believe Indy's intent coming out of the review was to let the clock wind down to about 10 seconds, run fourth down, call timeout and kick the field goal. This would have prevented the Chargers from having time to run a play and kick. This strategy SHOULD have been countered by Norv Turner who had two time outs left. He should have called one once the fourth down was measured. This would have forced Indy to punt. You can't go for a fourth down with 26 seconds left at midfield. Norv effed up royally. Oddly enough, so did the officials who NEVER WOUND THE CLOCK. Had the Colts not gotten the first, San Diego would have had around 16-18 seconds to run multiple plays becuase the officials did for Norv what he was too stupid to do. Fortunately, Marvin was wide open. Much was made out of the pick with the official. It was clear on tape that Marv had ALREADY lost his man at that point. By the way, it was Williams (who almost won this game by himself) that forced the quick throw by 18.

Other thoughts:
  • No one could watch that game and tell me that Dom runs better than Addai.
  • Dungy as magnificent in the final minute.
  • Rivers really is painfully accurate. He made nice throws all night. Conversly LT is not the same player anymore.
  • Sessions played great in spots, but missed some tackles too.

Hmmm, someone familiar snuck one into Ask Vic. Gratifying answer from a guy who mocked the Colts for drafting four centers and also declared Manning to be done during his live game blog in September.

Judge gets more Manning V Manning hype rolling. Whatever. I'd be thrilled with it.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Kurt Warner for MVP?

Nah gah dah

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Things for Which I am Thankful

I suppose it's cliche to do a thankfulness piece on Thanksgiving day, but seriously, I do this for free so you don't get to complain about a lack of creativity. I am immensely grateful for the myriad of true blessings I have received in my life, and will dedicate the rest of this day those. But for the purposes of a football blog, I am thankful that:

Bart Peterson wanted to keep the Colts in Indy, and we got the new stadium built before the economic roof caved in.

Peyton Manning is the best quarterback in football.

We don't need Bob Sanders for at least a month.

Jeff Saturday has played hurt all year.

Dwight Freeney has picked up right where he left off.

Norv Turner is such a terrible coach.

For the sack/strip.

Tony Dungy didn't retire last January.

Anthony Gonzalez is such a hard worker that he visibly improves every week.

That Charlie Johnson isn't our left tackle anymore. He's played really well at guard.

For Cleveland, Detroit and Cincinnati.

For the right leg of Adam Vinatieri.

For winning in Pittsburgh in my lifetime.

For not losing to the Texans at home in my lifetime.

For Bill Polian. And consequently, that my team is not run by Ted Thompson.

That Jack Del Rio signed a 3 year extension in the offseason, and is all but impossible to fire.

For at least a few more weeks of watching 88 in blue and white. I hope that isn't all we have.

For tiebreakers breaking our way.

For one of the great seasons in Indianapolis history, despite all odds and logic.

There is so much unintentional comedy in Vic Ketchman's Happy Birthday Jags column, that I laughed out loud three times. There wasn't a joke in the piece...except for the Jags themselves.

Whitlock KILLS ESPN. Wow. There's some real hatred there.

How great would a Manning bowl be? Mostly freaking awesome, except that I don't think the Colts would have a prayer of stopping the Giants run game. Still. . . we can dream.

Demond Sanders: Vic's article sounds more like a farewell than a happy birthday. Maybe he's caught wind of something. The Whitlock article is awesome on so many levels. He's dead on about ESPN. Also, I watched the CMU game he refers to and it was the most biased, poorly called game I've heard in a long time.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Learning to Love Football (all over again)

For a decade now, Colts fans have gotten used to making the playoffs and being considered a contender. We've gotten used to historically fast starts and having our team bandied about with the greatest teams of all time. We've gotten used to insane arguments with Patriots fans who couldn't seem to understand what made their own team so great. Somewhere along the way, a lot of the joy of the week to week was drained out of the game for us. Colts fans in general became more concerned with only winning titles rather than celebrating and enjoying each win.

Then came this season. We were all geared up for another title run with what Bill Polian called 'the most talented team' he's ever had. Then, disaster struck. One injury after another decimated that talent, and left the Colts in trapped in a coffin gasping for air while many outsiders prematurely danced on their half dug grave. It was easy to get despondent when watching the Colts play because their flaws have been so obvious and consistent almost every week. It was like watching the fall of Rome from your barcalounger every Sunday.

Then, almost shockingly, something clicked. The flaws? They didn't disappear, but suddenly they didn't matter as much. The offensive line gelled just enough. Manning gritted his teeth a little more firmly. Freeney spun out of one extra hold. 88 picked up just one more first down. Without warning or reason, a team that had been torture to watch started to win games. They haven't won them pretty, but they've gone up against some of the most talented squads in the conference and walked away on top.

The 1995 Colts are on the top of most long time fans' lists of favorite Colts teams. They repeatedly pulled off amazing comebacks. Their quarterback defied logic with his play. They entered the playoffs as a wildcard team, and beat a poor west coast squad, before knocking off the best team in football, and walked into Pittsburgh and should have left as conference champions. There was no burden of history with that team. They just wanted to win every game they could and make the playoffs. Then when the time came, they were battle tested and ready to win in any way necessary.

The 2008 Colts seem to be their natural brothers. In 2007, Indy played a total of 4 games worth watching out of 16 (@Ten, NE, @SD, @Oak). Already, in just 11 games, the Colts have played seven games that went down to the wire (winning 6). They have played 4 different games that could challenge for our Greatest Wins list. I can't find a way to rank the Minnesota, Houston, Pittsburgh and San Diego games because they were all thrilling. Finally, it dawned on me yesterday...I love this team. They are make all the wrong kind of mistakes, but somehow 18 and 4 and 93 and 98 and...always seem to make the one play they have to. No team this beat up should be 7-4 against a tough schedule. This Colts team has made it fun for me watch football again. Forget championships for a minute and just appreciate rooting for a team that won't quit.

I really look forward to the games now; gone is the nagging dread of a loss. I've accepted that this team isn't the best in the NFL this year (NY Giants have been from week one). They still might win it all, or at least more than they ought, but they don't have to in order for me to feel good about this year. It'll take a nice playoff run to unseat 1995 in heart, but if a team ever had the chance to, this is the year it could happen.

Thanks 2008 Colts. You made it fun again.

This isn't really a link, but here are the updated projections for Manning and Cassel:
Cassel (link to last week's post for comparison)


The biggest change for 18 is that his completion % is now within normal limits. The only number he has that won't fully recover by the end of the year is his YPA.

SI's Playoff projection is sort of lame.

IU gets off without anything worse happening. That's all that matters.

Never in the history of man has anything been more predictable than Easterbrook's comments on Sunday's game. makes another appearance in Walk Through. He confuses Demond and I because of the whole Facebook presence, but whatever. It's a great piece anyway, and mostly my fault he was confused.

Demond Sanders: Mostly your fault? LOL. You created a Facebook account with my name and operated it as if you were me. Yes, I'd say the confusion was mostly your fault. For the record: I don't believe in Facebook as a concept. I thought awkwardly bumping into people you only know tangentially or haven't seen in 20 years was a bad thing. . .

DZ responds: It's not my fault that Facebook wouldn't accept Zombie as a last name. They are bigoted against the undead.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A look at the MVP Race

Anyone who has crunched the numbers knows the AFC South division title is over. The Titans won. Tennessee can clinch the division by winning any two of its final five games. Trust me, I ran the tie-breaker scenarios and did the math.

So besides the wild-card positioning what is left to root for? I suggest rooting for Peyton Manning. He has a ridiculously good shot at his third MVP award. Here is my unbiased look at the front-runners. If you think you have a better candidate in mind, I'd be interested in hearing about it. Keep in mind that this award is nearly always won by a QB or RB.

1.) Kurt Warner, Arizona Cardinals
Stats: 21 TDs, 8 INTs, 3506 YDs, 102.4 Rating
Team Record: 7-4, 1st place NFC West
Last week: 1 TD, 1 INT, 1 Lost Fumble in a loss to NYG
Remaining Games: @Phi, STL, MIN, @Pats, SEA

Warner is still the odds on favorite, but he didn't help himself any with his second uneven performance in a row. The NFC West is horrible, but Warner will still get the credit for the Cardinals first division title since 1975. If no one emerges with a serious case Warner may be the default winner of this award.

2.) Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts
Stats: 19 TDs, 10 INTs, 2823 YDs, 87.2 Rating
Team Record: 7-4, 2nd place AFC South
Last week: 2 TD, 1 INT in a win at SD
Remaining Games: @Cle, CIN, DET, @Jax, TEN

Manning's stats are not eye-catching, but his growing list of clutch wins is very impressive. He certainly deserves to be in the conversation as long as the Colts continue their winning ways. If the race is tight Manning may have an advantage because of his consistently great play since his last MVP win in 2004.

3.) Brett Favre, New York Jets
Stats: 20 TDs, 13 INTs, 2461 YDs, 94.1 Rating
Team Record: 8-3, 1st place AFC East
Last week: 2 TD, 1 INT in a win at TEN.
Remaining Games: DEN, @SF, BUF, @Sea, MIA

As a wise man once said, "Brett Favre is Brett Favre." I could have easily put him in second place. He is leading arguably the best team in the AFC in the biggest media market in the world. The media wants to give him this award, but he'll probably need to win the East and finish with 30 TDs.

4.) Eli Manning, New York Giants
Stats: 18 TDs, 7 INTs, 2319 YDs, 91.6 Rating
Team Record: 10-1, 1st place NFC East
Last week: 3TD, 0 INT in a win at AZ
Remaining Games: @Was, PHI, @Dal, CAR, @Min

I know I recently said there was no way Eli would win the MVP, but 3 touchdowns against a decent Cardinals squad changed my mind. Is he important enough to his own team? I don't think so, but he is the leader of the best team in football. I don't ever remember an MVP race this balanced, so it wouldn't surprise me if the voters gave it to a member of the far and away best team.

5.) Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons
Stats: 1088 YDs, 13 TDs, 4.3 YPC
Team Record: 7-4, 3rd place NFC South
Last Week: 117 YDs, 4 TDs in a win over CAR
Remaining Games: @SD, @NO, TB, @Min, STL

Turner is a sleeper pick whose candidacy is dependent on his team finishing strong and winning the division. His quarterback, Matt Ryan, deserves a lot of credit, but he is a rookie and his numbers are pedestrian. Turner has been a revelation in Atlanta and could steal this award with a late season surge.

Others in the conversation: Drew Brees (needs wins), Randy Moss (needs stats and wins), Clinton Portis (needs wins), Adrian Peterson (needs wins), Brandon Jacobs (needs stats)

Make a note of it

I finally got a nap after only 2 hours of sleep last night, so I think I can form a few coherent thoughts about the game.

  • What kind of a season has it been when this is possibly only the third or even fourth most exciting game of the year? How do you rank these wins? The Colts are the best watch on TV. Between Minnesota, Jacksonville, Houston, Pittsburgh, and San Diego, the Patriots game (which was decided in the fourth quarter on a 50 yard AV FG) seems like crap. Amazing every week. I'm ready for a break.
  • This was a valiant effort by the defense. Yes, they completely wilted in the fourth quarter (which we all saw coming), but again, you have to feel like Bob Sanders stops at least one of those scoring drives. Bullitt is a solid replacement, who makes plays and mistakes. He's not Bob Sanders.
  • Tony Dungy is a great coach. He had the guts to try and go out and win the game, not once but twice on tough fourth down decisions that could have cost him. He coaches mostly without fear. I still wanted one more fourth down try early in the game, but I have no problem with what he did. His team has been destroyed by injuries at literally every position on the field in the last 12 months. He's going to post another double digit win season and guide his men to the playoffs. If this is it for him, he could not have gone out better.
  • The Colts have to get better to have a chance to win it all. The truth is that they are winning almost every game at the wire on Manning's will, Freeney's spin, and AV's cannon leg. The problems last night were obvious. There is no pressure at all ever up the middle. If Freeney and Mathis don't break free, there is no pressure. The secondary isn't sound enough to hold up under that kind of strain. On offense, Manning still is underthrowing deep balls which is making it tough on the offense. Jamey Richards played valiently, but wasn't as effective as Saturday. The O dominates on third and fourth and short, but at a key time Dallas Clark failed to block his man, and it almost cost Indy the game.
  • The Chargers have talent all over the field, but are run by clowns.
  • Tom Moore's passing routes have been amazing in their design.
  • When 18 says that 88 was the first option all the way on the two most important passes of the game, that says something. It's still hard for me to get away from how weak his numbers are, but who am I to argue with Manning.
  • No drops last night. The Chargers dropped the ball late and it cost them the game.
  • If we never see the Chargers again, it's all right with me. Oh crap, we'll most likely see them next year. Sigh.
  • For my money, the best team I've seen in the AFC all year is still Pittsburgh. I don't buy the Jets, but I really don't by the Titans. I think New England will be a nasty out by the end of the year. I wouldn't at all be surprised to see 5 and 6 meet for the AFC Championship. If you don't chop the head off of Dungy and Belichick teams, you'd had better be ready to lose.
  • The numbers still say the Colts are pretty average. The PF/PA against isn't strong. They've won a lot of games they have no business winning, largely because everytime they play they have the single best player on the field. If that isn't the definition of MVP, I don't know what is.
  • I'll post updated projections for Manning and the new golden boy Matt Cassel tomorrow.
Peter King is all over the board. He puts the Colts behind NE and Pittsburgh this week, and at #6. He still has Manning at #2 on the MVP list. He says the Zombie is a great guy...just before he eats your brain.

ESPN says that Manning was unconscience on third down. Yup. That's our boy.

CHFF thinks the Patriots have to start asking some tough questions. No kidding. Especially because it will likely take Tommy boy all next year to really be himself. Can they really afford to just like Cassel walk?

They also have a great stat on the dominant four in the AFC.

Audibles is good this week. Tanier thinks the Colts O must drive teams crazy.

Ask Vic is a miserable place to be. I love it.


Colts 23 - Chargers 20

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Colts Chargers Live Game Blog

As always, limit your comments to, you know, actual comments. If you are a regular and want to help us free up spots, email us at, and we'll send you a panelist invite. Other than Demond and I and panelists, we can only have 10 other participants at a time, so if you leave mid chat, please let us know.

Happy Birthday Deshawn Zombie!

Happy birthday, DZ!! Here are pics of some of your favorite sports stars over the years. Hope you have a good birthday in Argentina.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

He has to go

Indiana lost the Old Oaken Bucket to Purdue today by a score of 62 - 10. Words can't really express the embarrassment Hoosier fans feel over this latest football humiliation. Here is my stream of consciousness during the first 15 minutes of the game:

Neither of these coaches will be back next year. Kellen Lewis is from Jacksonville? No wonder he sucks. They are going to be 3-9 one year after their bowl. Purdue is kicking onsides? They are clowning us. 17-0 in the first quarter. Goodbye Billy. Don't let the door hit you etc. I'm done with IU football forever if Lynch is retained. But he was 8-2 at DePauw!!! He looks forlorn. Like he knows there is a -1% chance Lewis could lead a 24 point comeback. Yes, a negative chance. In fact, if IU got like 6 turnovers and defensive scores. . . Lewis would definitely throw several picks on obvious running downs just to make sure. All the little things that have gone wrong. Penalties, fumbles, dropped picks, and it is still the first quarter. Punting into the end zone from the 40 when you are down four scores?! Good job you held them below 30 in the 1st quarter.

FLASHBACK: On November 26 of last year Indiana University announced that it was removing the interim tag and making Bill Lynch its head football coach. This turn of events prompted us to post a not-so-ringing endorsement. Just under a year later our initial reaction appears justified. Was this the worst hire in recent Hoosier history? No, but only because of the Kelvin Sampson disaster. All I can say is thank goodness the AD, Rick Greenspan, is stepping aside next month.

A special thank you to Bob Kravitz for insisting that Lynch should be hired last year. Funny that despite a long search I couldn't find a link to that column.

DZ Comments: The original piece by Kravitz is gone from the Star. Here's a blogger's breakdown of it.

UPDATE: Kravitz was gutless today. He avoided Weis (yikes!) and Lynch altogether. The weird thing about the whole Lynch situation is how painfully obvious it was from the start. Indiana had 8 home games. They didn't play OSU or Michigan. They played two MAC teams.

They won 3 games.

I wouldn't say Kravitz avoided the issue, so much as buried it at the bottom of his column. Here's his take:

Now, though, there will be questions about the future of the guy across the field, Bill Lynch, whose Hoosiers were thoroughly embarrassed. This effort recalled Gerry DiNardo's farewell performance in 2004, a 63-24 loss here in West Lafayette.

Let's just say this: It's possible this was Lynch's last game. But it's not likely.
First, lame-duck athletic director Rick Greenspan will not make the decision. IU let a lame-duck president named Adam Herbert hire Kelvin Sampson, and that didn't work out so well. If anyone is going to make a move any time soon, it's going to be incoming AD Fred Glass, although I don't see that happening. Not right now.

Second, Lynch signed a four-year extension last year after leading the Hoosiers to the program's first bowl appearance in 14 years. It would be both rash and financially irresponsible to pull the plug after one bad season/horrendous performance. At the very least, he needs another year.

Kravitz is correct about the complicating factors that will effect Fred Glass's decision. But the question is do you compound a terrible decision made by your predecessor with a mistake of your own?

Eye Swear Eye'll Stop with the Puns

No. Probably not. At any rate, Eyes in the Backfield is read for this week. Take a peek:

Other than Bob Sanders' absence killing the defense, we were pretty happy with how last week's Eyes turned out. This week the Horse faces the toughest test left on it's regular season slate: the San Diego Chargers. With both teams fighting for potentially the same playoff berth, Sunday's prime time clash should be true test of Indy's progress. This week watch out for:

1. Watch for 300. Manning has gone over three hundred yards in his last three games against San Diego, and went over 400 last January. The Chargers have one of the worst pass defenses in football, so it stands to reason that Manning is going to pile up the numbers. He's gotten on a roll in recent weeks, and there seems to be no reason to think that will stop this week.

2. Watch Cromartie. Thanks to a bizarre set of circumstances in San Diego last year (including rain, hurt linemen, and something called a Craphonso) Manning threw 6 picks, 3 to Antonio Cromartie. Cromartie used that game to springboard himself to the Pro Bowl with 10 picks on the season. Whether teams have wised up to him, or he's having a down year, he only has 2 picks this season. Because of the connection with Manning, he'll be in spotlight Sunday night.

For know the drill.

UPDATE: Bob is out. Suck.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Derek Schultz on Bob Lamey

We recently asked Derek Schultz of XL 950 to give his take on long time Colts broadcaster Bob Lamey. Here's what Derek had to say:

"Lamey is among those that I didn't particularly care for. He is a really nice guy and a passionate Colts fan, however sometimes he lets that bleed over too much into his broadcast.

I find it particularly annoying when he constantly complains about officiating. I hold p-b-p people to a higher standard than color guys because I believe it is there responsibility to be professional throughout. The "fan" in the booth is supposed to be the color guy (i.e. Ron Santo). Actually, a perfect example of an outstanding broadcast team is Santo and Pat Hughes on Cubs' broadcasts. Hughes gives you the meat and potatoes - he's your eyes and ears. Santo is emotional and reactionary - he's your head and heart. That's what I want from every broadcast team.

Also, I don't like Lamey's voice (just my personal opinion), but I know that's something he has no control over. He is also inaccurate at times, especially with gains/losses as well as down and distance (and Vinatieri's FG miss at San Diego last year).

You have to take what I say with a big grain of salt because I am not a Colts fan. I think Hawk Harrellson is the worst announcer ever but I know die-hard White Sox fans that will throw you down a flight of stairs to defend him. Fans tend to love their home p-b-p guy and I know plenty of people that love Lamey. I believe that grading announcers is all a matter of personal opinion. Vin Scully, Marv Albert, and Al Michaels are three of the best ever, and I guarantee that there are people out there that can't stand them."

Big thanks to Derek and XL 950 for helping us out. You can hear Derek on XL 950's Xtra Large Lunch, weekdays from Noon to 1 pm. I'm curious how many of you agree with Derek's take on Lamey.

DZ Comments: I can't judge this at all. I love Lamey because other than that weird stretch with Joe McConnell that wasn't pretty at all, he's always been the voice of my Colts experience. I can remember our dad always hated him because "he yells no matter which team has something good happen". In local announcing, I believe that stability is almost as important as quality. Lamey works great for me because he's a conduit to every great Colts team in my lifetime. I love his work, but am way too biased to judge it. For the record, I love the Hawk's home run call, but I think Ron Santo is human waste when it comes to announcing (and that sound is exactly zero people fainting with surprise).

The Sports guy rips on new fields citing the Colts Bears game as a prime example about the loss of home field advantage. The Luke (or the Stable as some of our readers were calling last week) can be every bit as loud as the dome. I believe that based on my experience there in week one. Our fans act depressed this year. They are still in shock. I expect them to round into form eventually and make the Luke just as loud as the Dome was.

He also calls 18 the MVP while reinforcing the truly dubious nature of his own heterosexuality. Seriously, given the kinds of arguments Pats fans used for years, surely they would have to recognize the greatness of this season. At least he's consistent.

18 Plays is back this week...but still only in written form.
I'm still having technical difficulties. I really do plan on podcasting again some day. Just not today.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Edge of Reason

I should be slapped for daring to reference a cheap chick flick (and a sequel at that!) in a post about one of the toughest, best players to ever wear the horseshoe on his helmet, but whatever. It has come to my attention that some Colts fans don't hold fond memories of Edgerrin James. The knocks on Edge seem to be among the following:

1. He didn't have enough power to pick up short yardage plays
2. He was selfish and only cared about stats
3. He was a mercenary who left the Colts for a big pay day
4. He wasn't clutch
5. He was cocky and full of himself.
6. His lack of production in AZ proves he wasn't a great player
7. He wasn't a Hall of Fame player.

Let it be known that I couldn't possibly disagree more with this assessment. Perhaps the most unfair comments are the ones aimed at his character. Edge was one of the hardest working, hardest playing Colts ever. Manning said of him after he signed with the Cardinals:

"It's been different when you'd had a guy behind you for seven years. You start to get accustomed to it. Edgerrin James has been one of the best teammates I've ever had in my entire football career," Manning said.

"We won't be teammates anymore, but we'll still be friends. But I'm sad about not being teammates anymore. That's kind of where the business side of the game comes into play. Arizona took great care of him, and I'm happy about that."

He was gracious when he left Indy, and didn't have unkind words for anyone, showing up at the Super Bowl to root on the Colts. He challenged Matt Leinart to work hard to elevate his game to that of Peyton Manning. He described his time with Manning this way:

James says Manning forced players to come up to his level if they wanted the ball; James is trying to bring the same sense of urgency to Arizona. "P wasn't going to throw it to you if you weren't open," he says. "You always had to be on your game. Absence creates that. If you don't have that ball, then you have more respect for it. When it comes your way, you want to do more with it.

Edge wasn't a jerk or lazy or anything other than a player who left his body and soul on the turf at RCA. As of today, he has gained more yards from scrimmage than any active NFL player. He is 12th all time, and if he sees the field at all this year or next, he'll likely finish in the top 8 all time. He's 8th all time in most rushing yards per game. He needs just 300 rushing yards to be 8th all time. He's a four time Pro Bowler and 2 time rushing champion, despite playing in a pass first offense. His career page is littered with reasons to recognize him as one of the great players of this age.

He was spectacular before his knee injury and incredibly consistent after it. The Colts struggled in short yardage situations during his tenure, but Edge still posted record setting success rate numbers. He was a hard hitting runner, and allowed the Colts to function with a below average line for many years. Between his hard running and Manning's quick release, the Colts didn't need a great line to have success.

The only bad thing about Edge was that he never wanted to come off the field. That's a hard thing to criticize a player for. The Colts found success with two backs after Edge left, but that isn't Edge's fault. He wanted to play. And he he did. He was a savage blocker on passing downs, as well as a consistent threat out of the backfield. It was these qualities that endeared him to his teammates.

Edge didn't hold out and gripe when the Colts put the franchise tag on him. He knew he was done in Indy after that year, but still posted more than 1500 yards, averaging more than 100 yards a game. Polian had no interest in resigning a 28 year old RB for premium money, when he was faced with a great RB draft in 2006. Edge's struggles with the Cardinals said more about how terrible that team was than it did about his true skill. Most RBs start to decline in their late 20s (just look at LT). Edge managed to get his big payday before it was too late. Everyone seemed happy for him.

Let me end this ode to the Edge with this quote from an Arizona Central story:

Sometimes, Edgerrin James can be a bit bashful. Like when it comes to talking about his kids (he won't do it). Or when it's time to talk about his new Super Bowl ring, the one he recently received from his previous team in Indianapolis.

"I wanted to keep that a secret," James said.

Understandable. The ring is a symbol of the past. It brings up uncomfortable topics, like how the Colts won a championship without him. It reinforces conventional wisdom, and how it's unwise to spend big dollars on prime-time running backs, like the Cardinals did with James.

But you know what else it says?

It says that James really mattered in Indianapolis, and that the Colts openly recognize that they couldn't have won a title without him.

"Peyton (Manning) tells me all the time that, in the 19 to 20 years he's been playing football, Edgerrin James is the best teammate he's ever had," said former NFL quarterback Archie Manning, father of Peyton and Eli. "The one regret they all have is that they couldn't have won while (James) was still there."

In a coldhearted business like the NFL, that is the ultimate compliment.

You can't read that quote and not realize that this was a special player. I gave Demond a helmet signed by James and Manning for Christmas one year. It's not dated or passe at all. It's a symbol of the rise of the Colts. Edge James is a Colt forever in our hearts. I hope he makes it back into blue and white before it's all over. I hope I can make it to Canton when he's enshrined.

Shake does a great job defending the Dungy Era in Tampa, and Dungy in general. Fine work.

Big Blue goes Ricardo Montebaum on us. Since I've been letting my 4 year old watch "The Arena" all week, I can freely admit that I love the reference.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Is Peyton Manning having a down year?

That's been the assertion by many. We've covered a lot of the reasons why that might be the case (a very difficult early schedule, line troubles, no run game, dropped passes, the knee, Marvin Harrison's troubles). There's only one big's not actually true. As always...numbers can help. These are Peyton's projected stats for 16 games this year:

2008 (proj)37460861.6410927146.886.6

Here are Manning's stats for the last 9 years (rookie year excluded)


These are the averages for those seasons:

Att Comp % Yards TD Int YPA Rating



  • Manning's completion percentage has been lower than in previous years. The Colts have also dropped more passes than any of us ever remember. Marvin Harrison has only caught 51% of passes thrown to him as opposed to numbers around 70% in his best seasons.
  • Yards, TDs and picks are all completely within normal ranges. 27 TDs is 'below average' only if you count 2004. 2004 aside and Manning throws 29 TDs a year. His interception % is actually LOWER this year than average due to what would be a record number of throws and a typical number of picks.
  • His YPA is legitimately lower than ever. He also has had no running game at all. This has lead teams to play deep all season and not respect the play action.
  • His rating is lower than some years, but on pace with what he did in 2002 when he took a 10-6 team to the playoffs in Dungy's first year.
  • These projections assume a steady pace for the rest of this year. As we've noted, the Colts schedule was front loaded with tough pass defenses. It is likely that Manning's final numbers will spike significantly by the end of the season. While I doubt he can get his final completion percentage to 65%, he most likely will get his rating up over 90, and has a good chance to get his YPA well over 7.
  • His numbers look very similar to his first 4 years when he only had one reliable WR. Reggie Wayne began to emerge in 2003 (and wasn't a force until 2004). That was when Manning's efficiency stats jumped to another lever. It's clear that Harrison's struggles this year have hurt Manning's numbers.
So the next time someone tells you how funny it is to see Manning struggle this season, just point to the numbers. Most of them are fairly normal, and the ones that are low are likely to rebound. It's too early to call this a successful season, but by the end, it will likely be a fairly ordinary one statistically, and an extraordinary one given the context of the season.

More blips on that radar. Adam Schein says Manning is #2 on his MVP list and is currently underrated.

The Polian corner addresses the play of Ugoh. He sounds pleased, but he talked that way about CJ at LT too. Ugoh has been up and down some, but there is no question that his return has solidified the O-line.

Edge wants out of AZ.
So sad. Who can blame him really?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Blip on the screen

Maybe it doesn't merit it's own post, but #18 showed up on another MVP list today:

Bucky Brooks has him at #5.

A big win this week, and you'll only see him get more and more attention.

In other news:
SI predicts the playoff field. They have Indy going 11-5, winning this week and losing at Jacksonville. I would reverse that (especially if Bob is out), but 11-5 is what I'm going with as well.

The guys at Hugging Harold Reynolds have come up with at really great idea for a website. The get local eating tips from various bloggers around the sports world. Fanfoodie is a great place to check out before you head on a road trip. Oh, and the Indy entry? I think you'll recognize the contributors. I'm open to argument on our post. If you disagree with our pick, please comment on the post there or here. And yes, I missed a chance to try and push "The Stable" nickname. I didn't feel it was the place to drop a new nickname.

Bob sends us this link that posits what we all know to be true: the dumpster is definitely ablaze.

The DVOA numbers are out. The O-line numbers are fascinating. Indy is #1 in pass pro, and number 27 in rushing. For those that care: Dom and Joe's numbers are virtually identical. What does this tell us? The line isn't that good, but Manning's completion % has taken a hit this year because he's getting rid of the ball and avoiding sacks.

Demond Sanders: I am optimistically leaning towards an 11-5 finish as well. I think the Colts will beat the Chargers in a very high-scoring affair. I think they might lose to Jacksonville, although the Jaguars are truly terrible so a 6-0 finish is possible. Not that it matters since they can't improve their seeding beyond the 5 spot. Now we know what it has been like to be Jacksonville the past few years.

I think its interesting that Bucky dropped Eli Manning from the 3 spot last week to unranked this week. Maybe he realized there is no chance in hell Eli is winning it this season. I love Eli and he has good stats, but he's not important enough to his own team to merit the MVP. I think the Kerry Collins ranking may also be a courtesy thing. If he finishes with 20 touchdowns AND 15 wins then maybe, but that won't happen.

Read this before judging Marvin Harrison for having his gun used to shoot a convicted murderer.

The Colts may add another TE. I wonder if Santi will be IRed

Monday, November 17, 2008

I told you so?

Earlier this week I wrote, "I think the Colts are about to go on the offensive and Marvin will be a big part of it." So far, so good.

I was a little worried after Marvin put up only one catch in the first half against Houston. But then it happened. The second half. Thirty minutes that could have major implications for the rest of the season. 8 catches. 6 first downs. 1 touchdown. Am I being overly dramatic? Probably, but you have to admit it felt pretty good to see #88 reach back to grab the ball, keep his knees off the ground, and fight to get in the endzone for 6.

Is it time for I told you so? Uh, no. It was just one game. Remember that Marvin had 8 catches against the Bears in week 1 and promptly disappeared for two months. But, I expect to see a lot more out of Marvin from here on out.

What a difference a week makes. Here are the Colts updated receiving stats:

Reggie Wayne5679014.1655
Anthony Gonzalez4047311.8582
Dallas Clark3945911.8293
Marvin Harrison3943411.1674

DZ Comments: I sure hope you are right. This is one time I won't mind being wrong. The six first downs were significant. These weren't short passes the D didn't mind giving up. They were chain moving catches. Watching him fight for the ball and the score helped quiet people who questioned his desire (which I didn't and wouldn't do). Ultimately, you are right. One week proves nothing. Let's see he show up big on Sunday night in a tough game, and a lot more of us will believe.

Why I'm so excited about a 6 point win

We predicted a slaughter, and got a dogfight. Why am I so happy? First off, if we had known Bob Sanders would be inactive, we would never have expected the defense to shut down Houston. This team is radically different when he plays. More important than the margin of victory was the reappearance of all phases of the offense. Here's what I noticed:

1. Hey! It's the run game! It was great to see Addai SLAM ahead in the fourth quarter for a big first down conversion. As the game went along, he looked shifty and fast. If this team starts running effectively, it will be hard to beat (see 2006, postseason; don't see 2005, 2007).

2. Harrison did what I wanted to see (my exact quote was: Harrison may be getting open deep, but he's not getting open short). Kravitz complained that all Marvin's completions were short. GOOD! Look, deep balls are freaky. They can result from perfect throws or blown coverage. It's the slants and hooks for first downs that move the chains. THOSE were the plays where Marvin hadn't shown any separation all season. It was those same throws that Manning kept having picked in weeks two and three. These were the routes that Nick Harper(!) was batting down. When corners get sick of giving up first downs to 88, that's when they bite on double moves and big gains follow. Marvin needs a few more games like this convince everyone that he really is ok, but this was a start.

3. Dwight Freeney seems to make all his sacks big ones. He has long been one of the most 'clutch' players on the Colts D (he was the only one to show up for Black Sunday against Pittsburgh). He had two sacks yesterday and both were big.

4. Melvin Bullitt has four picks. That's second in the NFL. He's had three 'game enders'. That sounds impressive, and it's a nice stat for him. It's not that big a deal really. Those are good plays, but none of his picks have been particularly tough plays. He struggled yesterday.

5. Clint Session has improved dramatically from early in the year.

6. Ugoh struggled on the one bizarre drive to end the first half, but Williams had no sacks of Manning. Penalties are bad. Sacks are worse. Given the run and pass offense yesterday, I don't think you can score that matchup as any worse than a wash. Ugoh hasn't always been pretty, but this line is better with him. I say it every week, because it's obvious.

7. Peyton was brilliant again yesterday. Ever since the two back to back games in the wind against great pass defenses, Manning has been unstoppable. His completion percentage is down this year thanks to lots of throw aways from pressure and an ungodly number of drops. His cumulative stats continue to improve each week, and while a couple of the efficiency stats may be lower this year, he'll still throw for 4,000 yards and 28-30 scores. He needs a huge game against SD to get the MVP train chugging at full speed.

8. Sunday night's game is massive. A win, and the Colts are sitting at a very solid 7-4 looking at a spate of winnable games. A loss, and they are right back where they've been...scratching and clawing each week. In fact, a win and they are right back on track for an 11 (or 12) win season. This season may yet be about the improvement of the Titans (re: VY got benched) more than the decline of the Colts. Really the only 'bad' loss the Colts have was the debacle against the Jags, where the officials blew several obvious calls and turned a blow out into a loss. The Chargers MUST have this game Sunday. It's going to be tough. Everyone pray for Bob's knee this week!

9. The Jags are done! The Jags are done! After the game Jack Del Rio repented of his harsh treatment of the team. He ordered the locker room repainted with pastels, and bought all his players muffin baskets. He then demoted MJD to the practice squad for 'giving him a dirty look'. What a clown.

Peter King puts Manning at #2 in the MVP watch, but then says he thinks the Colts would be 3-7 without him? Really? Which 3 do you think they win? I'm thinking 1-9 would be generous.

Demond Sanders: After Warner's middling 1 touchdown, 1 pick effort against Seattle it is fair to say the MVP race is on like Donkey Kong. Someone is going to win their record-tying third MVP. Warner is the sexy pick right now because he's leading an exciting young team. He also has the comeback story working for him. Manning can overcome that, but it will be difficult. Lots of wins and touchdowns are in order.

Dallas Clark talks to ESPN

Manning plummets in Quick Reads...all the way to number two for the week. He had been on top the previous two weeks in a row.