MONDAY NIGHT BATTLE

The Colts-Dolphins series has been a showcase of talent the last few years, and because of that this matchup has been exciting to the end of every game. Memories surface of Peyton Manning outdoing Dan Marino a few years back, Edgerrin James tearing apart the Dolphin D, Lamar Smith's 209 yards rushing in last year's playoff win, and the Dolphins rookie connection of Chris Chambers and Travis Minor spearheading the Dolphins' last victory over the Colts on Nov. 11. <p>

Now, the Colts come to Miami in the midst of a fading season and disappearing playoff hopes. But don't think for one second that the last regular-season meeting between these two teams as division opponents will be anything less than thrilling.

WHO: Miami Dolphins (8-3) vs. Indianapolis Colts (4-7)

WHERE: Pro Player Stadium; Miami, Fla.

KICKOFF TIME: 9 p.m. ET

TELEVISION: ABC

LINE: Miami by 4 1/2

COACHES: Indianapolis, Jim Mora (4th year with Indianapolis); Miami, Dave Wannstedt (2nd year with Miami)

SERIES RECORD: The Dolphins lead 44-21, the best record against an AFC East foe.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 11, in Indianapolis; Dolphins 27, Colts 24

INJURIES: Dolphins — Mark Dixon (ankle), Daryl Gardener (back) are out/IR; J.J. Johnson (quad), Sam Madison (shoulder) are questionable; Chris Chambers (ribs/hamstring), Ernest Grant (shoulder), Jermaine Haley (thumb), Rob Konrad (shoulder), James McKnight (ribs), Todd Perry (knee), Lamar Smith (back), Brian Walker (thumb), Shawn Wooden (hamstring) are probable.

Colts — Brad Scioli (ankle) is out; Chukie Nwokorie (knee) is doubtful; Cory Bird (ankle/knee), Mike Peterson (knee), Mike Vanderjagt (back) are questionable; Rick DeMulling (back), Ryan Diem (shoulder), Trevor Insley (head), Peyton Manning (jaw), Steve McKinney (back), Rob Morris (knee/neck), Dominic Rhodes (back/wrist), Mark Thomas (stomach virus) are probable.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Dolphins secondary vs Marvin Harrison — Sam Madison is still bothered by his injured shoulder but he is expected to make his return to the field tonight. Madison played well the last time Miami faced Indy but separated his shoulder while making an interception midway through the game. Harrison subsequently burned Miami's D for nine catches for 174 yards and thee touchdowns. The Miami defense must keep a close eye on the always-dangerous Harrison.

Dolphins passing game vs Colts defense — The Colts have one of the league's worst defenses and the opportunity to score points will present itself all night. The Dolphins simply must take advantage of it. McKnight, Gadsden and Chambers should get some deep balls thrown their way in this one.

Dolphins special teams vs Colts kick returner Terrence Wilkins — Wilkins is a great, speedy returner who can turn a game around on one play. He returned a kickoff 50 yards and had a punt return for 20 yards against Miami in the last meeting.

WHEN THE DOLPHINS HAVE THE BALL: The Dolphins put together their best offensive game of the season in the last Colts game, racking up 375 total yards. Look for that trend to continue. The Colts have a relatively weak defense and with the emergence of playmakers on the offensive side of the ball for the Dolphins, Miami will look to exploit that weakness with Lamar Smith and its super trio of receivers.

WHEN THE COLTS HAVE THE BALL: The loss of Edgerrin James hurt the Colts obviously, but not as much as people had anticipated. Indy's offense is still putting up huge numbers even without him, as they racked up almost 500 yards against a good San Francisco squad. Indy's major problem has been turnovers, a relatively familiar foe for Miami fans. Look for Manning to throw to Marvin Harrison often as he is their best chance to break any play wide open. The Colts will be conscious of protecting the football, so the Dolphins need to take advantage of any opportunities that come their way to get a turnover.

BOTTOM LINE: The Colts, on paper, are probably overmatched because of their defense. But this is a Monday nighter where a national audience will be watching. This is also the last regular season matchup as division rivals as the Colts are switching to the AFC South after the season as part of the NFL's realignment. Miami broke Peyton Manning's jaw in the last game. You don't think the Colts will be ready for this one? If the Dolphins can contain Marvin Harrison and they don't turn the ball over, look for another W in the win column in Tuesday morning's paper. But if Harrison and Manning get a good rhythm going and Miami makes too many mistakes, the tide could turn very quickly.


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