Dome could spell doom

Two things are on the line on Sunday and each team has a claim to one that they will not be eager to let go. The Colts are looking for continued perfection and the Bolts are seeking a way into the playoffs.

Add up all the Ws the Indianapolis Colts have posted this year and you get 13 in a row to start the season. Add one more "W" this week and one of the NFL's most vaunted records will be equaled – most consecutive wins to start a season. That mark, of course, belongs to the 1972 Miami Dolphins, who went on to compile the NFL's only perfect season – 17-0 – by winning Super Bowl VII.

With three more weeks in the regular season – the most wonderful time of the year! -- the Colts could go 16-0, which would be an NFL regular season first.

But hold on, says their head coach Tony Dungy: "Going 16-0 would be great, but it's not the most important thing. I like history. I appreciate it. But I just think it's best to not look too far ahead."

Wise thought. History's 13-0 teams have a .500 record when it comes to winning their 14th game (with the Dolphins, ironically, shutting out the Baltimore Colts 16-0 on December 16, 1972 to complete their 14-0 season).

"The ways in which they've won, it's not like they've been in a bunch of barn-burners," Chargers head coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "They've pretty much controlled the tempo of the game When you look at perfect, which is what they are, and then you look at the guy that orchestrates it (Manning), I would have to say (the team MVP) would be Peyton."

Of course, Indy is just the third team to play a 14th game. Last year, the Chargers stood in the way of history. At the time, Peyton Manning was shooting for the record for most touchdowns in a year when San Diego traveled to Indianapolis.

The Chargers did not want to fall victims to the streak and held fast until the 59th minute of the game – but Manning struck with a touchdown pass to Brandon Stokley to pass Dan Marino, claiming the mark for his own.

Ironically, Drew Brees believes Manning is better this year.

"Statistics don't tell the story all of the time. In fact, they rarely do. There's so much more, especially playing the quarterback position. I think he's done a great job managing the game. Just from what I've seen, it seems like he's managing the game, playing well and in great command of that offense."

The Chargers are now tasked with stopping perfection. And it comes at a time where they desperately need a win to stay alive in the playoff race.

The division-leading Broncos (10-3) pace the Chiefs (8-5) and Chargers (8-5) by two games with three to go. The Broncos can win their first division crown since the year they started 13-0 (1998) and went on to win their second consecutive Super Bowl (XXXIII).

"It will be a tough challenge," Manning said of facing the Chargers. "Their record is not indicative of how good of a team they are."

But a loss this week would likely mark the end of playoff hopes for San Diego and everyone will talk about what could have been.

"In the end, as a quarterback in this league, you're measured by wins and losses," said Brees.

And a sixth loss, far from perfection, could spell doom for San Diego.


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