Coming off impressive wins over NFL pretenders, the Patriots (8-0) and Colts (7-0) appear more than ready for Sunday's meeting of unbeatens at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. Tom Brady is putting up historic offensive passing numbers. But Peyton Manning is also chugging along, leading a productive attack that's getting the job done each and every time it takes the field.
Two undefeated teams have never met this late in the season and considering the recent history in the series dating back to the 2003 postseason, this is the real deal matchup all the football world has been waiting to see in 2007.
The Patriots offense enters the game coming off what was supposed to be its greatest test of the season both in terms of the Redskins impressive overall defense and playmaking secondary. New England also faced the elements a bit, as relatively high winds hit Gillette Stadium. But neither the Skins defenders nor the wind was able to derail Brady and Co. as the passing attack again paved the way for the 52-0 dismantling of Joe Gibbs' visitors.
But as much as the Patriots are rolling right now, recent action against the Colts has gone the way of the defending Super Bowl champions. Indy has won two straight regular-season meetings, both in Foxborough, and also came out on top of last January's eventful and unpredictable AFC title game in the Dome.
One of the interesting aspects heading into the game is the seeming role reversal of the two teams this season. Tony Dungy's boys were once the statistical savants, the high-scoring darlings of the media and the public in general, the team winning through offense and passing records. Bill Belichick's squad was the team-first, glamour-be-damned winner, the perfect epitome of what team sports are supposed to be all about. Subjugated egos were the well-sold story of the three-time Super Bowl champs.
Things have turned a 180 for the two. Now the Patriots are the flashy team led by the record-setting quarterback and his stable of star playmaking receivers. The Colts are winning close games, somewhat ugly at times. A two-point division win here (22-20 at Tennessee on Sept. 16). A six-point road win there (30-24 at Houston on Sept. 23).
But regardless of the style of play, it has gotten both teams to where they want to be -- facing each other for the top spot in the AFC, which is to say the top spot in the NFL. Sunday's battle in Indy will go a long way toward deciding seeding in the conference down the stretch and potentially where the AFC title game is played if all things play out as predicted and the teams meet again in January. It could also go a long way in one of the two taking a big step toward a potential historic 16-0 season. Two champions are set to face off. Two quarterbacks are set to match wits as well as record-setting right wings.