Pack Host Colts

Green Bay, WI - Appearing fully recovered, Peyton Manning led his team to a rejuvenating victory last week. Aaron Rodgers did the same despite clearly not being back to full strength.

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Only one of those quarterbacks can win again Sunday when Manning, making possibly his final visit to one of sports' most hallowed venues, leads the Indianapolis Colts into Lambeau Field to face Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Colts -1 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 70% of bets for this game have been placed on Colts -1 (View NFL Football bet percentages).

The Colts revealed this week that Manning underwent not one, but two knee surgeries during the offseason. The perennial Pro Bowler did not return to the field until late August and as he worked his way back into the flow of the offense, and Indianapolis (3-2) got off to a slow start with losses in two of its first three games.

A bye week didn't appear to get the Colts straightened out, as they returned to face then-winless Houston and needed a stunning 21-point comeback in the final four-plus minutes to win 31-27 on Oct. 5. It wasn't until last Sunday that they finally played more like the team that has won the last five AFC South titles.

Manning completed 19 of 28 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns without an interception against the league's top-rated defense in a 31-3 victory over Baltimore. Posting by far his best quarterback rating of the season at 134.7, Manning earned AFC offensive player of the week honors.

"I guess in some ways, this really is like the first week of the season for me," he said. "All I've ever known is taking every rep at every practice and playing in all the preseason games, so I did miss some time there and I've been working through that."

Rodgers has hardly practiced the past two weeks and it's unclear how many reps he'll take this week due to a sprained shoulder suffered in a Week 4 loss to Tampa Bay. The injury clearly has not slowed him down in games.

He certainly wasn't to blame for a 37-25 loss to Atlanta in Week 5, throwing for 313 yards and three touchdowns. Another strong effort from Rodgers did pay off last Sunday, when he went 21-of-30 for 208 yards and two scores with no interceptions in a 27-17 victory at Seattle as the Packers (3-3) halted a three-game losing streak.

"I think it's a good message that he's sending," Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. "You view that quarterback position as a leadership position, and when your leader is maybe not 100 percent, yet he's going out there and giving excellent effort and he's playing well, performing well, that's a plus."

The first-year starter is off to a much better start to the season than Manning, at least statistically. Rodgers' 98.0 passer rating ranks seventh in the league while the former Super Bowl MVP is at 87.8 to rank 14th, with three fewer touchdown passes but one more interception than Brett Favre's replacement.

"He's playing well," Packers wideout Donald Driver said of Rodgers. "Especially knowing the guy's shoulder is hurting and he doesn't know how he's going to be able to throw. Week-in and week-out he shows you that he can do everything."

Driver, who has caught a pass in 101 consecutive games, has 528 career receptions and needs three more to pass James Lofton for second on the Packers' all-time list. He also needs 19 receiving yards to pass Antonio Freeman (3,477) as the all-time leader at Lambeau.

Considering these teams only play once every four years and the next meeting could be in Indianapolis, Manning might be making his second and final start at Lambeau. He threw for 294 yards and three touchdowns in his previous visit, a 26-24 defeat on Nov. 19, 2000.

The only other time Manning faced the Packers was in 2004, when he passed for 393 yards and five TDs in a 45-31 win as the Colts evened this all-time series at 20-20-1. The Colts have lost their only road games against Green Bay since winning there in 1988, and these franchises have only played four times overall in the past two decades.

Manning will be in for a challenge Sunday, facing a Packers defense which is holding quarterbacks to a 62.3 passer rating - third-lowest in the league. Led by cornerback Charles Woodson, who tops the NFC with four interceptions, Green Bay's pass defense ranks seventh in the NFL at 178.8 yards per game.

Indianapolis is likely to test that pass defense. Already averaging a league-worst 69.4 yards rushing, the Colts could be missing top rusher Joseph Addai due to a hamstring problem and rookie running back Mike Hart is out for the season with an ACL injury.

If Addai can't play, Dominic Rhodes - averaging 3.3 yards per carry - would get the bulk of the work.

The Colts had easily their best defensive game of the year last week, allowing a season-low 260 total yards and holding an opponent under 15 points for the first time. Indianapolis forced five turnovers, the same number it caused through its first four games.

"The reason it's happened is guys are playing faster," defensive captain Gary Brackett said. "I like to say you have to step with a purpose out there and everyone started buying into that last week."

Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
INDIANAPOLIS is 2-1 against the spread versus GREEN BAY since 1992
INDIANAPOLIS is 2-1 straight up against GREEN BAY since 1992
3 of 3 games in this series have gone OVER 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 GREEN BAY since 1992
GREEN BAY is 1-0 against the spread versus INDIANAPOLIS since 1992
GREEN BAY is 1-0 straight up against INDIANAPOLIS since 1992
1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Key Player Injuries
[WR] Anthony Gonzalez injured last game, "?" - Head - 10/07/08
[CB] Marlin Jackson is "?". - Ankle - 10/09/08
[DE] Dwight Freeney injured last game, "?" - Hamstring - 10/09/08
[DE] Robert Mathis is "?". - Undisclosed - 10/09/08
[S] Bob Sanders is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. - Ankle - 09/17/08
[CB] T.J. Rushing IR - Knee - 08/25/08
[CB] Kelvin Hayden is downgraded to doubtful - Knee - 10/08/08
[G] Dan Federkeil missed last game, "?" - Ribs - 10/05/08
[OG] Ryan Lilja expected to miss at least six weeks. - Knee - 08/09/08
[LB] Tyjuan Hagler expected to miss at least six weeks. - Pectoral - 08/02/08
[WR] Roy Hall missed last game, "?" - Knee - 10/03/08
[DE] Mike Pollak expected to miss at least 4 weeks. - Knee - 09/10/08
[CB] Michael Coe IR - Knee - 08/13/08
[DE] Jason Hunter missed last game, "?" - Hamstring - 10/05/08
[FB] Korey Hall missed last game, "?" - Knee - 10/05/08
[LT] Chad Clifton left last game, %27?%27. - Hamstring - 10/05/08
[CB] Al Harris expected to miss 3 weeks - Spleen - 09/21/08
[SS] Atari Bigby missed last game, "?" - Hamstring - 10/05/08
[DE] Michael Montgomery injured last game, "?" - Ankle - 10/06/08
[DT] Justin Harrell is expected to miss first 6 games - Back - 08/25/08
[S] Aaron Rouse missed last game, "?" - Knee - 10/03/08
(!) [QB] Aaron Rodgers is probable - Shoulder - 10/07/08
[DE] Cullen Jenkins IR - Chest - 10/01/08
[LS] JJ Jansen IR - Knee - 08/30/08
[RB] Kregg Lumpkin missed last game, "?" - Hamstring - 10/05/08

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Posted: 10/15/08 7:33 PM

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