Colts-Pats big? You bet

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:56 AM ET

Just when you thought there was no way the Indianapolis Colts could lose on Monday night, the wiseguys weigh in.

Bettors and bookies are going to town on the showdown between the Colts and the New England Patriots, a matchup that has been billed as the game of the year.

All logic points to the Patriots being vulnerable.

All logic points to the Colts finally getting the number of their nemesis.

And all logic might as well be tossed out the window.

"Forget about them being undefeated," Patriots punter Josh Miller said of the 7-0 visitors. "They want to knock us off but you know of the track record."

Bookies want bettors to believe it can happen, too, making the Colts a three-point favourite to start and bumping that up to 3 1/2 points. The way the Patriots (4-3) have struggled lately makes the undefeated Colts look all the more tempting.

Then again ... How can the two-time defending Super Bowl champions be an underdog at home for the first time in three seasons? How can a Colts team that is 0-6 against Tom Brady, winless in its past seven at Foxboro and utterly destroyed in games at Gillette Stadium the past two playoff seasons, be so well regarded?

And one other thing: In their three Super Bowl seasons, the Patriots are a combined 32-1 (playoffs included) after Nov. 1.

Though trying to play down the significance of the prime-time tilt, Colts coach Tony Dungy admits until his team wins in New England, the doubts will linger.

"That's what happens when you don't win," Dungy said. "The only way we can end that is to win some of those games."

The case against the Patriots is based on the struggles the champs have had, much of those injury-related. New England has yet to win back-to-back games this season and has just a slim lead in the AFC East standings.

The Colts, meanwhile, come to New England rested off a bye week and feeling frisky with an attacking defence to complement quarterback Peyton Manning's offence.

"We've seen a lot of them (on film) and as usual, they look pretty good," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.

Adding to the case against the Colts, however, is that they have defeated only one team with a winning record this season.

Home boy

Next on the to-do list for New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning -- win a game on the road.

The record book will show that the second-year quarterback has one away win, but that came when the Giants were the visitors to the New Orleans Saints but playing in their own stadium. Manning is 0-5 in starts away from Giants Stadium.

"It is just another objective and another challenge," Manning said. "You have to prove that you can win on the road if you are going to get where you would like to.

"Really, I don't worry about it. My goal is to treat every game the same and try to go out there and compete."

FLYING LOW

The Philadelphia Eagles already have matched their loss total from the 2004 season, but a 4-3 record may actually flatter them.

Three of those wins have come by a combined 12 points and slow starts are killing the Eagles. In three of its past four games, Philadelphia has trailed by scores of 17-0, 17-0 and 28-0.

"Is it as good as last year's team?" said quarterback Donovan McNabb, who has played through injuries all season. "I think so. But when you're the top dog teams are vying to kind of knock you off. We're getting other teams' best and we just have to be able to capitalize."


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