Is The Competition Faltering?

What's going on in Indianapolis? Adam Vinatieri is missing kicks, Peyton Manning is having trouble with accuracy, receivers are dropping passes. Are the Super Bowl Champions still the best, or even the second best team in the NFL?

So what's wrong with the Colts?

Nothing that getting some rest and a few injured players back in the starting lineup can't fix.

Indianapolis won't have much time to get that much-needed rest this week as the team will play at Atlanta on Thursday night in a nationally televised game. That means a day off on Monday, a full practice on Tuesday and most likely a short workout Wednesday before heading south to face the Falcons.

The good news, however, is that after the Atlanta game, the Colts will have 10 days to recuperate before a Dec. 2 home rematch with AFC South rival Jacksonville.

The Colts are now 8-2 for the year after snapping a two-game losing streak with a harder-than-expected 13-10 win over an up-and-down Kansas City team. It took an Adam Vinatieri 24-yard field goal with three seconds left to seal the deal.

Indianapolis played the Chiefs without the services of two offensive starters -- receiver Marvin Harrison and left tackle Tony Ugoh -- while also losing two other starters, right tackle Ryan Diem and receiver Aaron Moorehead, after they tweaked old injuries.

Defensively, the Colts were without defensive end Dwight Freeney, linebacker Tyjuan Hagler, cornerback Dante Hughes and cornerback Tim Jennings. Freeney is done for the year with a LisFranc injury to his left foot.

While the team has been hit hard by injuries, along with a rugged schedule over the past month (road trips to Jacksonville, Carolina and San Diego along with a highly-anticipated home game with the front-running New England Patriots), Indianapolis' players are not making any excuses for their recent inconsistent play.

"(Injuries) are one thing that we don't use as an excuse. We have the old quote, 'It is what it is' and there is really no surprises as to who isn't going to play on Sunday," quarterback Peyton Manning said after the Kansas City game.

"We kind of know all week who is not going to play, so you have to practice and get some guys ready and you've got to find a way to make it work with whoever is out there. That is something that we don't point to obviously. Every week you hope you get a lot of your players back just for the sake of getting them on the field. You would like everybody to have a chance to play. We still need to make it work with the guys that are out there."

Which means now the Colts are gearing up for a trip to the Georgia Dome, where Indianapolis dropped a 28-21 decision during Manning's rookie season.

Safety Bob Sanders knows that it won't be easy.

"We're going to enjoy this (win) and move on and start preparing. It's going to be a short week. Everybody knows it and we got to make sure we're ready. Coming into this week, we know that we had to get back and get a streak started on every side of the ball. We wanted to play well," Sanders said.

Linebacker Gary Brackett agreed.

"You get one day off, rest a little bit and enjoy the victory," Brackett said. "Then you come back to work Tuesday and get ready for Atlanta."

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