THE CRYSTAL BALL

The Dolphins will be going on Sunday for their fifth consecutive victory at the RCA Dome. Here's how we think the game is going to unfold.

In fact, Peyton Manning has never beaten the Dolphins at home since entering the NFL in 1998. The Dolphins won 24-15 at the RCA Dome in the opener that season, and followed that with 31-30, 17-14 and 27-24 victory at Indy the last three seasons.

Actually, every meeting between the teams the last three years have been decided by seven points or less with the exception of last year's 41-6 Dolphins rout on a Monday night at Pro Player Stadium.

Things certainly don't figure to be that easy for the Dolphins this time around, although they do appear to have the edge heading into this game.

Here a couple of reasons for that.

The first is the Colts defensive line missing two starters because of injuries. To adjust, Indy will switch one of their starting defensive ends (Brad Scioli) inside and replace him outside with a rookie seventh-round pick (Raheem Brock).

The end result of that should be a big day for Ricky Williams, who is coming off a 111-yard performance in the opener against Detroit.

Wide receiver Chris Chambers killed the Colts last year, with two touchdown catches in each of the two meetings, so you can bet Tony Dungy will pay a lot of attention to him.

That's fine, because Jay Fiedler now can turn to either Oronde Gadsden, fullback Rob Konrad or rookie tight end Randy McMichael.

At this point, it appears the Dolphins offense should be able to move the ball effectively unless they get dominated at the line of scrimmage, which isn't likely to happen against the Colts.

On the flip side, the key is Sam Madison being able to make it through the game. The Dolphins simply don't have enough proven corners at this point to handle the Colts' many quality wide receivers if Madison has to leave the game early.

Madison said after practicing on Thursday that he felt fine and wasn't anticipating any problems, but still keep your fingers crossed.

The absence of tight end Marcus Pollard is huge for the Dolphins because his backup, Jermaine Wiggins, isn't nearly the same kind of receiving threat.

You wouldn't anticipate the Dolphins being able to completely shut down Edgerrin James on the ground, but it's also difficult to see him breaking loose for a ton of yardage.

What it boils down to is you can expect another close game, probably in the 20s, where one big mistake can make the difference.

But the Dolphins have more balance (offense and defense) and should be able to leave the RCA Dome with another victory.

But it won't be easy.

The call: Dolphins 30, Colts 27.


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