Behind Enemy Lines: Colts II

The Indianapolis Colts bring their undefeated record and high-powered offense to Gillette Stadium Sunday night for another test of top teams. Colt Power's publisher Ed Thompson shares more of his insights in this Part 2 Behind Enemy Lines. Ed talks about Brady-Manning comparisons, what Manning could have done if he were a Patriot, the injury report and his game prediction.

10 QUESTIONS - Patriots vs Colts Part 2 Publisher Ed Thompson is this week's guest on 10 questions.

Jon Scott: Manning vs Brady has been the talk for years, and it is back in full force this week and will probably continue while both quarterbacks remain active in the NFL. Give us your take on the comparisons between the two and why one or the other deserves to be labeled "the best" in the NFL.

Ed Thompson: Well, at this point it's the quarterback with the rings versus the quarterback with the stats and the NFL MVP trophies. Both are deserving of tremendous respect for their accomplishments, and I'm not sure either one could be crowned as "the best" in the NFL as the debate will rage on as to what criteria you apply to determine that title. That said, you've got to admire the way Brady has been able to perform despite having a bunch of new receivers to work with this year and the fact that he performs well year after year in a cold-weather climate. At the same time, you've got to give Manning his nod for the career records he's setting, and for being first or second in the NFL so far this year in all the meaningful categories -- completions, completions percentage, yards, average gain per pass, TDs and QB rating. And he's only thrown two interceptions despite all of that throwing he does. He's making a strong case for consideration of a third MVP trophy, and only Brett Favre has ever reeled in three of those during a career.

JS: Hypothetically speaking, if you switched the teams the two QBs were on, would Manning have won Super Bowls with the Patriots, or would Brady have been able to get the Colts back to the Super Bowl? How do you think the QBs would fare?

ET: It's hard to tell how Manning would have done in New England, especially in a cold-weather climate. We just haven't seen him in that many games under those conditions over the years, but when he has worked in those conditions he's had mixed results. That said, New England put some very good defenses on the field during those Super Bowl seasons, so that would have been a tremendous asset to Manning in New England compared to what he's experienced at times in Indianapolis. I think Brady would have excelled in Indy in offensive coordinator Tom Moore's system and with the talented Colts players on offense, but we'll never know whether or not he could have led them to a Super Bowl without as strong of a defense complementing those efforts.

JS: The Colts' division continues to be subpar year-in, year-out. The Texans never seem to be able to protect David Carr. Tennessee has a new QB in Vince Young now, but plenty of other issues. And the Jaguars appear to be the only team able to challenge Indy. How do you see the competition in the division, and do you think the division's weak members inflate expectations of the Colts?

ET: The division as a whole hasn't had more than two competitive teams at a time since it's inception. Initially it was the Titans and the Colts, and as they declined the Jaguars stepped up to take their place. I think the Texans will improve under Gary Kubiak in the next two years, and Tennessee is already showing some progress with Vince Young at the helm, so I expect that they will be much better in about two years as well. By then, we'll have to see if the Jaguars replenish talent at key positions well enough to stay competitive. If so, the 2008 season could be the first time that you have four pretty strong teams competing. As for whether or not that inflates expectations for Indy, I don't think so beyond the fact that folks expect them to win their division.

New England Patriots QB Matt Cassel throws over Washington Redskins LB Jeff Posey Aug. 26, 2006. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson) - Cassel was one of 19 players listed as on the Patriots injury report this week

JS: The injury reports this week have taken on a new level of the absurd. As insiders we both know players who are really hurt and others who probably do not belong on the report. What is the take on the injury reports in the Colts area, and do you think they see this as gamesmanship or something more?

ET: I believe the Colts began adding every player who was nicked in reaction to New England's practice. I think it's either a way to try to payback the Patriots this week or to force the league to take a tougher stance. Because if more teams start reporting like this, the reports are useless. I don't think the Colts anticipated the Patriots latest move of having all of their questionable players miss a portion of practice though. My take is that the Colts don't like the whole situation very much at all and are hopeful that the league will step in at some point as it continues to become more ludicrous. It's going to be very interesting to see if New England continues this latest tactic beyond this week versus the Colts.

JS: What's your prediction for the game and for the Colts the rest of the way?

ET: If Manning or Brady has an uncharacteristic meltdown, this could be a lopsided contest. But I really don't think that will happen. I think we're going to see both of these teams move the ball pretty much at will. In such an evenly-matched game, a single turnover could be the key, as it was for Indianapolis last week against Denver. The Colts have only turned the ball over 4 times, so that's a category that favors them a bit. But the game could just as likely turn on an ill-timed penalty, or a dropped pass on a key third-down. I'm fully expecting this to be a one-score victory, hopefully for the Colts.

As far as the rest of the way, I don't think the Colts will drop more than 2-3 games during the regular season if they play their starters the whole season. Their toughest opponents after this weekend's game are the Cowboys, Eagles, Jaguars and Bengals. All of those teams are beatable, so it would take a lapse for them to lose to one of them. Their other games are against the Bills, Dolphins, Texans, and Titans. And although the Titans nearly won in the first matchup, I expect the Colts will be better prepared for them next time they meet and won't take them lightly.


Look for part 1 where Ed talked about the Colts undefeated season, the injuries the team has dealt with, and Peyton Manning vs Johnny Unitas

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