With Peyton Manning and Kurt Warner leading their respective offenses, however, both teams' early concerns looked unfounded last week.
Oddsmakers from online sports book SPORTSBETTING.com have made the Cardinals –2.5 point spread favorites (View NFL odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 62% of bets for this game have been placed on the Colts +1 (View NFL bet percentages).
Manning looks to build on his latest comeback victory and help the Colts stay undefeated Sunday night when they visit the Cardinals, who hope Warner can replicate his record-breaking performance from last week.
Indianapolis (2-0) beat Jacksonville 14-12 at home in Week 1, but it wasn't a very convincing victory for a Colts team that's won at least 10 games seven straight seasons and claimed five division titles in that stretch.
Not only were the Colts threatened by an upset, they also lost Anthony Gonzalez to a right knee injury. The third-year receiver out of Ohio State was expected to play an increased role in the offense because of the offseason departure of Marvin Harrison, but he could miss up to eight weeks.
Coming off a narrow win and relying on a depleted corps of receivers didn't stop Manning from leading Indianapolis to a win Monday night. Though the Colts only had the ball for 14:53, Manning completed 14 of 23 passes for 303 yards and two touchdowns without an interception in the 27-23 victory at Miami.
Manning's 48-yard TD pass to Pierre Garcon with 3:18 remaining put Indianapolis on top for good.
"It was about being efficient when it counted, in the fourth quarter," Manning said. "That's really what the game's about."
The Colts trailed 10-7, 13-10 and 20-13 but pulled even each time before Manning delivered his 37th comeback win in the fourth quarter or overtime. Among active quarterbacks, only Brett Favre has more with 39.
"It's been a culture around here of having poise and confidence," said coach Jim Caldwell, still undefeated in his first season replacing Tony Dungy. "Week in and week out, we operate the same drills all the time and the guys have a lot of confidence in what we do in those situations. I think it's simply because of the fact we've done it so many times."
Warner, 38, has experience on his side as well. He and the Arizona offense were sloppy in a season-opening loss to San Francisco, but Warner rebounded by setting an NFL record for accuracy as the defending NFC champion Cardinals (1-1) beat Jacksonville 31-17 on the road last Sunday.
Warner completed 24 of 26 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns. The 92.3 completion percentage broke the record, with a minimum 20 passes attempted, of 91.3 set by Vinny Testaverde (21 of 23) for Cleveland against the Los Angeles Rams on Dec. 26, 1993.
"Kurt's found the fountain of youth somewhere," said Larry Fitzgerald, who had four catches for 34 yards and a touchdown. "I don't know where it is, but we're blessed to have his services. He played error-free football to put our offense in a great position. When he's back there in that kind of rhythm, it's hard to deal with him."
Fitzgerald was one of nine Arizona players to catch a pass against the Jaguars. Anquan Boldin led the team with eight catches, and Steve Breaston had five for a team-high 83 yards.
While Warner had plenty of options last week, Manning made the most of his limited ones. Dallas Clark opened the game with an 80-yard TD catch, then made two more big plays to set up Colts scores and finished with a franchise record for receiving yards by a tight end with 183.
With Reggie Wayne drawing much of the defensive attention, Garcon's first NFL touchdown was a game-winner.
Clark and Garcon will likely continue to get more targets as Gonzalez heals.
"It was my first game starting and I wanted to be on point. I didn't want to let anybody down," said Garcon, a second-year player from Division III powerhouse Mount Union. "It helped out, but it takes time. It's not just going to happen overnight and we're still working on it this week."
It helps to have one of the league's all-time greats throwing the ball. Manning is third in career completion percentage at 64.5, one spot behind Warner at 65.5. Warner ranks third in career passer rating at 93.8, with Manning coming in second at 94.7.
The Colts have won three straight against the Cardinals since 1992, including a 17-13 victory in the last meeting Jan. 1, 2006. Manning attempted only two passes in that regular-season finale because he was resting for the playoffs.
Posted: 9/23/09 6:03PM ET