TV: CBS (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms)
SERIES: 41st regular-season meeting. Colts lead series, 20-19-1. The inter-conference teams are meeting for the first time since 2004, when host Indianapolis rode the five touchdown passes of Peyton Manning to a 45-31 victory in a shootout against the Brett Favre-led Packers. Green Bay has won the last two encounters in Wisconsin, including a 26-24 outcome in 2000, the Colts' most recent visit to Lambeau Field.
KEYS TO THE GAME: As QB Peyton Manning's knee gets closer to 100 percent, so does the Packers' offense. Manning's timing has improved, as has his confidence in the offensive line, although the Packers will try to disrupt that timing with bump-and-run CBs Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams. The big question for the Colts is in the backfield, where RB Dominic Rhodes will have to carry the load with Joseph Addai expected to be out. ... The Packers' struggling ground game should be more effective against the league's No. 29-ranked run defense. RB Ryan Grant is coming off a career-high 33 carries last weekend, although he's still not finding big holes on a consistent basis. With increased threat of Grant, QB Aaron Rodgers has been able to complete at least one pass of 40-plus yards in three straight games. The Colts emphasize eliminating big pass plays, so Rodgers is going to have to be patient and willing to engineer longer drives.
KEY INJURIES: Colts: Addai (hamstring) reportedly could miss 2-4 weeks; SS Bob Sanders (ankle/knee) will miss at least one more game. Packers: CB Al Harris (spleen) will miss at least two more weeks; DT Ryan Pickett (strained triceps) said he intends to play; Rodgers (shoulder) is limited in practice but will play.
FAST FACTS: The Colts are 20-6 (.769) under coach Tony Dungy against the NFC. ... Packers WR Donald Driver has 528 career receptions, two shy of James Lofton's franchise record.
— DT John McCargo, picked up in a trade with the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday, failed his physical with the Colts. He has been returned to the Bills. McCargo was found to have had a bulging disk in his back.
— LB Tyjuan Hagler may be activated for Sunday's game with the Packers. Hagler is on the Colts' physically-unable-to-perform list after suffering a torn pectoral muscle in late June. He returned to practice on Wednesday and was able to take part in Thursday's workout.
— LB Gary Brackett did not practice Thursday. Brackett was given the day off to rest old injuries. He will start Sunday against the Packers.
— DE Dwight Freeney returned to practice on Thursday. Freeney had been given Wednesday off to rest old injuries.
— DE Robert Mathis took part in Thursday's practice. Mathis was held out of Wednesday's workout in order to rest old injuries.
— LB Freddy Keiaho practiced on Thursday after sitting out Wednesday's workout to rest a groin injury. Keiaho is expected to start Sunday at Green Bay.
— CB Tim Jennings was given Thursday off in order to rest old injuries. Jennings is expected to be available to play Sunday at Green Bay.
— TE Gijon Robinson (ankle) has not practiced Wednesday or Thursday. An update on his availability for Sunday's game at Green Bay is expected Friday or Saturday.
— CB Kelvin Hayden (knee) has not practiced this week. He will not play Sunday against the Packers.
— WR Roy Hall (hamstring/knee) did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. He will not play this week.
— S Bob Sanders (ankle/knee) has not practiced this week. Sanders will not play against the Packers on Sunday.
— C Scott Wells was added to the injury report Thursday after suffering an upper-chest injury in practice the previous day. Wells was limited to the jog-through portion at the start of practice Thursday. The injury isn't considered serious, but Wells will be re-evaluated Friday before a determination is made on whether he'll play Sunday against Indianapolis. RG Jason Spitz is the top backup at center.
— SS Atari Bigby was a practice participant, albeit on a limited basis, for the first time since he suffered a hamstring injury in the Week 2 game. Bigby passed a conditioning test Wednesday in which he opened things up with the hamstring. Head coach Mike McCarthy hasn't ruled out Bigby from returning to game action Sunday.
— SS Aaron Rouse, who has started in SS Atari Bigby's place in three of the last four games and is preparing this week to make the start at the spot Sunday, was removed from the injury report Thursday. He had been listed after suffering a mild concussion that kept him out of the second half of the win at Seattle last Sunday.
— NT Ryan Pickett didn't practice for the second straight day because of a strained left triceps muscle he sustained in the last game. The plan is try to have Pickett do some work in practice Friday. Pickett is determined to play Sunday. If he's cleared by the medical staff, Pickett would likely wear a protective brace on the arm that he admitted would restrict his ability to tackle.
— DE Michael Montgomery hasn't practiced this week and likely won't play for the second straight game because of a sprained ankle. Rookie Jeremy Thompson and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila would again fill the void at right end Sunday.
— CB Al Harris went through conditioning drills for the second straight day in his return to the field this week from a spleen injury he suffered in the Week 3 game. Although Harris hasn't been ruled out from playing in some fashion Sunday, the plan is to begin working him into football drills when the team has its bye next week and try to get him ready to play for the Nov. 2 game at Tennessee.
— WR James Jones has yet to practice this week and likely will be sidelined for the second straight game because of an aggravated PCL tear in his right knee. The injury has kept Jones out of three of the first six games.
— DT Justin Harrell practiced for the second straight day in his return to the practice field for the first time since the end of last season. Harrell remains on the PUP list after undergoing two surgeries for a back injury he sustained during the team's offseason workout program. Team personnel want to see Harrell go through a full week of practice before they make a decision on whether to put him on the active roster. The availability of NT Ryan Pickett for Sunday's game would probably determine whether Harrell is activated this weekend.
PREDICTION: Colts 31-27