It's November in the AFC and that means one thing: time for another Patriots/Colts battle.
The two teams once again head into Sunday night's meeting at Lucas Oil Stadium ranked among the top teams in the NFL, and as always this midseason meeting could have a major impact on the AFC playoff picture come January.
This will mark the sixth straight year Indy and New England have met in the regular season, with the last four of those meetings coming in the month of November. In 2003, 2004 and 2006 the winner of the regular-season meeting earned the right to host the loser in the playoffs.
With the Colts (8-0) and Patriots (6-2) both sitting atop their respective divisions and seemingly building toward another Super Bowl run, this meeting needs little artificial buildup. The bottom line: It's one of the more important regular-season games, particularly for a non-division game, that the NFL stages annually.
Making things even better is that both Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, the NFL's last two MVPs, enter the game playing some of the best football of their careers. That's saying something for the two future Hall of Famers.
Brady notched his third straight 300-yard game in the Patriots' 27-17 dismissal of the Dolphins. He once again hit for the big play, finding Randy Moss for a 71-yard touchdown to regain the lead for good in the third quarter and, despite a rusty start coming back from missing all but the first quarter of the first game last season, is on pace for one of his best overall seasons.
Brady has a rating of 99.2 through eight games; Manning's rating is 105.2. Both quarterbacks have 16 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Both teams have questionable defenses, although New England's has been surprisingly solid through the first half of the season, while Indy's has fallen apart in recent weeks, losing two starters, cornerback Marlin Jackson and safety Bob Sanders, to season-ending injuries.
It's midseason. It's Patriots vs. Colts. It's Brady vs. Manning. It's the NFL's best rivalry, one that always seems to deliver hard-fought battles that leave fans wanting more, and they usually get more down the line in the postseason.
"We like to see it too. We always enjoy playing them," Brady said of the Colts following Sunday's win over Miami. "They're a great team. They seem to always be one of the best teams in the league and they're good in all three (phases), very well-coached. It will be a great challenge for us. We're 1-2 on the road this year, so we've got to go try to play our best game.
"I think the one thing about that game is you've got to play a great game to win. You can't go out there and play your 'B' game, because you won't beat those guys."
TRENDING: After averaging better than 4 yards a carry just once in the first four games of 2009, Laurence Maroney has topped the mark in three of the last four games while be given increased reps as Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris have missed time to injury.
BY THE NUMBERS: 16:5 - That's the touchdown-to-interception ratio for both Tom Brady and Peyton Manning heading into Sunday's meeting in Indianapolis.
Hot Topic: Official Game 8 Thread: Dolphins vs Patriots