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Inside the NFL | THIS WEEK'S MATCHUPS

One Manning Streak Will End

November 04, 2005|Jerry Crowe | Times Staff Writer

Which carries the greater weight, 7-0 or 0-7?

Peyton Manning has led the Indianapolis Colts to seven consecutive victories, the best start in franchise history, but he's winless in seven games at Foxborough, Mass., where on Monday night the Colts hope to build on their momentum while delivering a message to the New England Patriots.

This was supposed to be the matchup of the year in the NFL, but the two-time defending Super Bowl champion Patriots (4-3) have not held up their end, losing to the Carolina Panthers, San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos.

Still, they have won six in a row over the Colts, four in the last two seasons, among them a pair of frigid playoff victories on their way to championship parades. And, of course, they have never lost at home against Manning.

"It's that time," said Manning, whose Colts are favored by three points to end their Foxborough futility. "We know it's an important game and people are excited about it, but we have to approach it the same way we approach every game."

The Colts were never 7-0 even when Johnny Unitas was their quarterback, but they're the NFL's only unbeaten team after making it a priority to finish ahead of the Patriots this season, so as to avoid another playoff encounter in Foxborough.

Manning, who has passed for 11 touchdowns, won't come close to challenging the record he set last season, when he passed for 49, but the Colt defense is so much better that it hasn't mattered. Led by Robert Mathis, the Colts rank fourth in the NFL in total defense and lead the league with 26 sacks.

The Patriots, led by Tom Brady, rank second in the league in passing offense and got a lift Sunday when linebacker Tedy Bruschi returned to their injury-riddled defense only 8 1/2 months after suffering a stroke.

Elsewhere:

Atlanta (5-2) minus 2 1/2 at Miami (3-4), Sunday, 10 a.m. -- His former Auburn teammate, Carnell "Cadillac" Williams of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has gotten more notice, but the Dolphins' Ronnie Brown is the NFL's rookie rushing leader after running for 108 yards in Sunday's victory over the New Orleans Saints.

San Diego (4-4) minus 6 1/2 at New York Jets (2-5), Sunday, 10 a.m., Channel 2 -- LaDainian Tomlinson, fifth in the NFL with 728 yards rushing, has run for only 76 in the Chargers' last two games, but quarterback Drew Brees picked up the slack Sunday by passing for 324 yards in a 28-20 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Oakland (3-4) plus 4 1/2 at Kansas City (4-3), Sunday, 10 a.m. -- The Raiders, who have won three of four since LaMont Jordan asked for more carries, have won consecutive games for the first time since September 2004, but they have won only three of their last 19 on the road and lost at home to the Chiefs in September.

Houston (1-6) plus 13 1/2 at Jacksonville (4-3), Sunday, 10 a.m. -- David Carr, leader of a Texan team that ranks last in the NFL in total offense, has been sacked a league-high 37 times, 14 more than the Saints' Aaron Brooks.

Cincinnati (6-2) minus 3 at Baltimore (2-5), Sunday, 10 a.m. -- Carson Palmer has passed for seven touchdowns with no interceptions in his last three road games, and the AFC North-leading Bengals, 3-1 outside Cincinnati, are positioned to finish with a winning road record for the first time since 1981.

Detroit (3-4) at Minnesota (2-5), even, Sunday, 10 a.m. -- A depressing season for the Vikings keeps getting bleaker. Brad Johnson, 37, takes over at quarterback for Daunte Culpepper, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in Sunday's 38-13 loss to the Panthers.

Tennessee (2-6) plus 3 at Cleveland (2-5), Sunday, 10 a.m. -- Trent Dilfer keeps coughing up the ball, Reuben Droughns was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of operating a vehicle under the influence and the Browns lost Sunday to previously winless Texans. So why are the Browns favored? The Titans have lost five of six.

Carolina (5-2) minus 1 1/2 at Tampa Bay (5-2), Sunday, 10 a.m. -- The surging Panthers, second in the league in total defense, have won four in a row and pulled into a tie atop the NFC South with the Falcons and the Buccaneers, whose new quarterback, Chris Simms, was sacked five times in Sunday's surprising 15-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

Seattle (5-2) minus 4 at Arizona (2-5), Sunday, 1 p.m. -- Quarterback Kurt Warner, sidelined since suffering a strained groin in the second quarter of a 37-12 loss to the Seahawks on Sept. 25, returns for the Cardinals in place of Josh McCown.

Chicago (4-3) minus 3 vs. New Orleans (2-6) at Baton Rouge, La., Sunday, 1 p.m. -- Only the Colts have given up fewer points than the Bears, whose three consecutive victories have lifted them above .500 this late in the season for the first time since 2001, the last time they made the playoffs.

New York Giants (5-2) minus 11 at San Francisco (2-5), Sunday, 1 p.m., Channel 11 -- Lost amid the excitement of the Giants' rout of the Washington Redskins on Sunday was a subpar performance by Eli Manning, who was frequently off-target and completed only 12 of 31 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown.

Pittsburgh (5-2) minus 3 1/2 at Green Bay (1-6), Sunday, 1:15 p.m. Channel 2 -- Charlie Batch, who has thrown eight passes since 2001, takes over for Ben Roethlisberger, who is expected to sit out as many as three games after arthroscopic surgery Thursday.

Philadelphia (4-3) plus 3 at Washington (4-3), Sunday, 5:30 p.m., ESPN -- These teams gave up a combined 85 points Sunday. The Eagles, who might have to play without Terrell Owens, need a victory to avoid sole possession of last place in the NFC East -- only nine months after playing in the Super Bowl.

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