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The Browns will be without quarterback Brady Quinn for the rest of the season, which means Derek Anderson will start Sunday as Peyton Manning and the Colts try to deal Cleveland a fourth straight home loss.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Colts –4.5 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 91% of bets for this game have been placed on Colts –4.5 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
With a struggling defense and ineffective offense contributing to a 3-4 start, Indianapolis' chances of a seventh straight playoff appearance seemed to be slim entering this month.
However, despite a November schedule that included games against traditional New England, Pittsburgh and San Diego, the Colts (7-4) can finish the month 5-0 on Sunday to cap a stunning turnaround.
They came from behind in the second half to beat the Patriots and Steelers, and after holding off Houston on Nov. 16, got a 51-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal as time expired for a 23-20 road win over the Chargers on Sunday night.
The four straight wins have come by a total of 16 points.
"To win the games like we have, where they're three-point games - three points, six points - and you have to make a play at the end of the game, you just feel good about the way it has transpired," Colts coach Tony Dungy told his team's official Web site. "You feel like you're doing the things it takes to win games in December and January. It has been very, very gratifying."
After a difficult start to the year following a pair of preseason procedures on his left knee, Manning has been more efficient in November, throwing nine touchdowns and one interception in four games while completing 65.4 percent of his passes. He completed a season-high 32 passes against the Chargers as Indianapolis converted 10 of 17 third downs.
The Colts haven't been as dominant this season as they have the last five, as they won at least 12 games and captured the AFC South title in each year, but are still in position for a trip back to the postseason.
They have plenty of ground to make up on first-place Tennessee in the division, but are tied with Baltimore and New England for the wild-card spots, with the head-to-head tiebreaker in hand after beating both clubs.
"We probably still won't (win the division), but what we have to do is make (the Titans) continue to play, so we've got to keep winning so they have to keep winning," Dungy said. "We'll see what happens."
Indianapolis will continue to play without two of its offensive linemen. Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday is expected to miss three to four weeks with a calf strain he sustained in San Diego, while guard Ryan Lilja was ruled out for the season this week after missing the first 11 games with a knee problem.
Starting safety Bob Sanders has also missed the last two games with a knee injury.
The Browns will play the rest of the year without Quinn due to a broken right index finger. He had made three starts after taking the job from Anderson, but tried to play with the injury Sunday and was replaced after going 8-of-18 for 94 yards and two interceptions.
"It's frustrating," Quinn said. "I can't begin to tell you. I'm hurting right now because I love to play the game. I wish I could be with my teammates. I feel bad for the fans because I really wanted to be out there and continue to play and continue to grow in this league."
Cleveland (4-7) lost that game 16-6 to Houston, an outcome owner Randy Lerner called "sickening." The Browns went 7-1 at home en route to a 10-6 finish in 2007, but they're 1-5 there this season.
"There's no explanation for it," running back Jamal Lewis said. "We were just all over the place."
A healthy Anderson wasn't any better than the injured Quinn against the Texans, going 5-of-14 for 51 yards and an INT. Before losing the starting job this year, he had completed just 49.8 percent of his passes, throwing nine touchdowns and seven interceptions.
The season-long struggles of wide receiver Braylon Edwards haven't helped. Edwards leads the NFL in dropped passes, the most recent of which could have been a late touchdown Sunday.
"I'm just worried about my team. When they are depending on me to make a play, and they're calling my number I've got to deliver," Edwards said. "I don't what it is, but I got to go somewhere and get my head together."
Cleveland's defense also continues to have problems, especially against the run. Opponents have rushed for more than 110 yards in 10 of 11 games this season, and each of the last seven.
That could benefit the Colts, who have topped 100 yards on the ground only twice this season and rank 30th in the league with 3.5 yards per carry.
The Browns haven't beaten Indianapolis since Sept. 25, 1994 - before the former Cleveland franchise moved to Baltimore.
The Colts are 4-0 against the new Browns, all with Manning under center, even though he's thrown two touchdowns and four interceptions in those games. Indianapolis' three wins in Cleveland during that span came by five points or fewer.
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
INDIANAPOLIS is 4-3 against the spread versus CLEVELAND since 1992
INDIANAPOLIS is 6-1 straight up against CLEVELAND since 1992
5 of 7 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.
All games played at CLEVELAND since 1992
INDIANAPOLIS is 2-1 against the spread versus CLEVELAND since 1992
INDIANAPOLIS is 3-0 straight up against CLEVELAND since 1992
2 of 3 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Key Player Injuries
[WR] Roy Hall missed last game, "?" - Knee - 11/16/08
[RB] Mike Hart IR - Knee - 10/15/08
[CB] Michael Coe IR - Knee - 08/13/08
[TE] Tom Santi missed last game, "?" - Shoulder - 11/16/08
[RB] Clifton Dawson IR - Concussion - 11/07/08
[CB] Kelvin Hayden missed last game, "?" - Knee - 11/16/08
[CB] Marlin Jackson IR - ACL - 10/30/08
[S] Bob Sanders missed last game, "?" - Knee - 11/16/08
[CB] T.J. Rushing IR - Knee - 08/25/08
[S] Sean Jones injured last game, "?" - Ankle - 11/18/08
[OL] Ryan Tucker IR - Knee - 10/30/08
[TE] Kellen Winslow injured last game, "?" - Shoulder - 11/18/08
[LB] Antwan Peek expected to miss rest of the season. - Knee - 11/17/08
[WR] Joe Jurevicius IR - Knee - 10/29/08
[DE] Robaire Smith IR - Achilles - 09/15/08
[OG] Lennie Friedman IR - Shoulder - 08/30/08
[CB] Daven Holly IR - Knee - 07/25/08
[RB] Lawrence Vickers missed last game %27?%27 - Ankle - 11/17/08
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Posted: 11/25/08 8:37PM ET