TV: ABC, Al Michaels, John Madden, Sam Ryan
SERIES: 66th meeting. Patriots
lead series, 41-24, not including their home playoffs wins in each of the last
two years. The Patriots have owned the Colts lately, winning 17 of the last 21
meetings, including the 27-24 victory in the AFC championship game after the 2003
season and a 20-3 divisional-round win back in January. Indy has lost nine straight
visits to New England. Peyton Manning is 2-10 lifetime against the Patriots, 1-7
since Bill Belichick became the head coach and 0-6 since Tom Brady became the
2005 RANKINGS: Colts: offense 9th (4th rush, 16th pass); defense 4th (14th rush, 7th pass). Patriots: offense 5th (28th rush, 2nd pass); defense 26th (24th rush, 24th pass)
PREDICTION: Colts 24-23
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Colts' well-documented struggles in losing four games to the Patriots over the past two seasons begins in the first quarter, where Indianapolis has been shut out in each of those losses. Getting off to a solid start is critical for the Colts' psyche. QB Peyton Manning has often looked confused against the Patriots' schemes, but this is a different New England team that has struggled in coverage all season. ILB Tedy Bruschi returned last Sunday to help solidify the run defense, but the Colts will still turn plenty to RB Edgerrin James in an attempt to control the clock and open the passing lanes. Patriots RB Corey Dillon is less than 100 percent, but New England needs him to be effective to prevent QB Tom Brady from facing the Colts' dominating pass rush in long passing situations.
FAST FACTS: Colts: Are 7-0 for the first time in franchise history. ... Manning is 2-8 against New England. ... Have owned or share the AFC South lead for 51 of 59 weeks. Patriots: Brady is 6-0 against the Colts and 30-6 (.833) in games played after Nov. 1. ... Are 9-1 when Dillon rushes for at least 100 yards. ... Are outscoring opponents 48-27 in the first quarter.
--RB Edgerrin James was named AFC Offensive Player of the Month for October. James leads the league in rushing (801 yards), scrimmage yards (973), and first downs (57). It's the third time that James has won AFC Player of the Month honors (November, 1999; October, 2000).
--T Tarik Glenn did not practice Thursday due to back spasms. Glenn is expected to be in the starting lineup Monday night at New England.
--DE Robert Mathis did not practice Thursday due to a foot injury. Mathis should be available for the Patriots game Monday night.
--DE Dwight Freeney was held out of Thursday's practice as a precaution. Freeney has been bothered by a sore arch for the past two weeks. He is expected to be in the starting lineup Monday night.
--DT Larry Tripplett has not practiced this week, but may get a chance to do some light work on Friday. Tripplett has been held out the last three weeks with a high ankle sprain.
--Rookie WR Montiese Culton suffered a broken bone in his foot and underwent surgery earlier this week. Culton had been on the Colts' practice squad. He is expected to miss the rest of the season.
--Indianapolis signed rookie WR Roscoe Crosby to take Culton's spot on the practice squad. Crosby had been signed as an undrafted free agent by the Colts after the NFL's supplemental draft last summer. He had been released during training camp.
--DE Richard Seymour again missed practice on Thursday and appears likely to sit out his fourth straight game with a knee injury. "I was hoping to play last week, but things just didn't happen the way I wanted," Seymour said. "My body just didn't respond the way I would have liked."
--DE Jarvis Green figures to start in place of Richard Seymour against the Colts. Green had 2 1/2 sacks against Indianapolis in the AFC Championship Game after the 2003 season.
--WR Troy Brown (foot) returned to practice Wednesday and could be ready to reclaim his No. 3 receiver spot from Andre' Davis. Brown has missed the last two games.
--RB Corey Dillon (ankle) returned to practice on Wednesday. He is expected to play against the Colts because the Patriots have only one healthy back - newly signed FB Heath Evans.
--LT Matt Light has shed the cast on his broken right foot and appeared to be moving well in the locker room this week. Light was injured in Week 3. There is no timetable for his return, but the team did not place him on injured reserve, indicating that they believe he can play again this season.
--LB Tedy Bruschi was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his 10-tackle performance against Buffalo. It was Bruschi's first game after suffering an off-season stroke.
--S Arturo Freeman is expected to make his second straight start at strong safety. Freeman's main competitor for that job, rookie James Sanders, hasn't played since aggravating an ankle injury in Denver in Week 6.
--OLB Rosevelt Colvin should continue to play a high number of snaps now that Mike Vrabel's switch from outside to inside linebacker appears to be permanent. Colvin's strip sack and fumble recovery against the Bills last week set up the winning score.