Colts Streaking Along
Indianapolis, IN - The Indianapolis Colts have rebounded from a sour start with six straight victories, and they've needed all of them to maintain their grip on one of the AFC's wild card spots.
With their own poor start threatening to turn into an even more ignominious finish, the Detroit Lions would be thrilled with just one win.
Oddsmakers from Online Sportsbook Sportsbook.com have made the Colts –17 point spread favorites for Sunday’s game against the Lions. Current NFL Public Betting Information shows that 77% of more than 4,293 bets for this game have been placed on the Colts -17.
The Colts look to continue their charge toward a seventh straight playoff berth on Sunday when they host the desperate Lions, who are running out of chances to avoid becoming the NFL's first 0-16 team.
With Peyton Manning coming off knee surgery and the Colts' ground game sputtering, Indianapolis (9-4) stumbled to a 3-4 start. Only a pair of late comeback wins at Minnesota and Houston prevented them from a likely fatal 1-6 beginning.
But since a 31-21 loss at Tennessee on Oct. 27, the Colts have won six in a row, compiling the longest active winning streak in the league. While the first five victories all came by six or fewer points, they finally cruised to a win on Sunday, beating Cincinnati 35-3.
The Titans already have secured the AFC South title, ending the Colts' string of five straight division crowns, but Indianapolis remains tied with Baltimore and those two teams are in position to earn the conference's wild card berths. Three AFC East teams trail by one game.
"The first thing is you have to get in the playoffs," Colts coach Tony Dungy said. "... If we get in, I think we'll have as good a shot as anyone."
His team looked strong Sunday, even though its opponent was the lowly Bengals. Indianapolis' defense, maligned at times this season for struggling against the run, held Cincinnati to 252 total yards after limiting Cleveland to 193 the previous week in a 10-6 win.
Kelvin Hayden also returned one of his two interceptions 85 yards for a touchdown, giving the Colts defense two TDs in the last two games - a span during which it has allowed none.
The Colts have given up just four passing touchdowns all season, on pace to break the 16-game NFL record of nine, while intercepting opponents 14 times. Star safety Bob Sanders also returned from a knee injury last week after missing three games.
Manning, meanwhile, continued to carry the offense against the Bengals, going 26-of-32 for 277 yards and three touchdowns without being picked off. With the Colts having rushed for 100 yards just twice this season, Manning has picked up the slack, ranking fourth in the NFL with 3,225 passing yards.
"It didn't feel easy out there," Manning said. "We look at teams, we don't look at their record. They have good players, they have good schemes. We still have to go out there and make plays."
They'll certainly have to avoid looking at Detroit's record if they hope to take the Lions (0-13) seriously.
Despite coaching just the fourth team to start with 13 straight losses since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 0-14 season in 1976, Lions coach Rod Marinelli this week emphasized that he maintains confidence in the team's approach. Detroit hast lost 20 of 21 overall dating back to last season.
"I believe in the invisible," Marinelli said. "I think you go on and you have faith in what you do. If you don't have it, you're nothing. You're not a man.
"If you just say, 'I give up, we're no good, we can't do this, oh woe is me', and look for pity, that's disgraceful to me. I look for every positive I can find on this football team to get them better."
Of the three previous teams to start a 16-game schedule 0-13, two of them won their 14th game - last year's Miami Dolphins and the 1986 Colts. Only the 1980 New Orleans Saints, quarterbacked by Manning's father, Archie, started 0-14.
No team has gone 0-16, but that seems a very real possibility for the Lions, who have allowed more points and rushing yards than any other team. But if their most recent game is any indication, they aren't ready to accept that fate.
Detroit intercepted two passes in the first half and led NFC North-leading Minnesota through three quarters, but lost 20-16 at Ford Field on Sunday.
"They don't want to go down in the Hall of Fame," Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said. "Whoever is facing them these last three games better be prepared."
The Lions may have to adjust to another change at quarterback, however, after Daunte Culpepper injured his shoulder against Minnesota. It's unclear if Culpepper will be able to play at Indianapolis, and it's also uncertain whether Dan Orlovsky, Drew Stanton or Drew Henson would replace him.
It may actually help the Lions to go on the road, especially after center Dominic Raiola made an obscene gesture toward heckling Detroit fans last weekend. Raiola was fined $7,500 by the team.
The Lions are 1-2 in Indianapolis since the Colts moved there in 1984, including a 30-18 loss in their most recent visit Oct. 29, 2000.
Manning torched the Lions in a Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit in 2004 the last time the teams met, matching a career high with six touchdown passes without an interception in a 41-9 win.
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
INDIANAPOLIS is 2-1 against the spread versus DETROIT since 1992
INDIANAPOLIS is 2-1 straight up against DETROIT since 1992
2 of 2 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 INDIANAPOLIS since 1992
INDIANAPOLIS is 1-0 against the spread versus DETROIT since 1992
INDIANAPOLIS is 1-0 straight up against DETROIT since 1992
0 of 0 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Key Player Injuries
[CB] Stanley Wilson IR - Achilles - 09/04/08
[CB] Keith Smith missed last game, %27?%27 - Groin - 11/27/08
[QB] Jon Kitna IR - Back - 10/14/08
[DE] Jared DeVries IR - Hand - 11/24/08
[C] Dominic Raiola missed last game, %27?%27 - Thumb - 11/27/08
[FS] Gerald Alexander IR - Neck - 10/13/08
[LB] Alex Lewis missed last game, %27?%27 - Chest - 11/27/08
[QB] Dan Orlovsky is out indefinitely - Thumb - 11/07/08
[WR] Mike Furrey IR - Concussion - 12/01/08
[TE] Dan Campbell IR - Hamstring - 09/09/08
[FB] Jon Bradley IR - Shoulder - 08/20/08
[QB] Drew Stanton missed last game, %27?%27 - Concussion - 11/27/08
[DE] Dwayne White missed last game, %27?%27 - Calf - 11/27/08
[OG] Edwin Mulitalo missed last game, %27?%27 - Knee - 11/27/08
[TE] Tom Santi IR - Shoulder - 11/19/08
[CB] Michael Coe IR - Knee - 08/13/08
[CB] Marlin Jackson IR - ACL - 10/30/08
[C] Jeff Saturday expected to miss 3-4 weeks - Calf - 11/25/08
[LB] Gary Brackett is downgraded to doubtful - Leg - 12/01/08
[S] Bob Sanders is upgraded to probable - Knee - 12/03/08
[CB] T.J. Rushing IR - Knee - 08/25/08
[OG] Ryan Lilja is expected to miss the rest of the season. - Knee - 11/26/08
[DT] Keyunta Dawson is doubtful - Hamstring - 12/02/08
[WR] Roy Hall missed last game, "?" - Knee - 11/30/08
[RB] Mike Hart IR - Knee - 10/15/08
[CB] Nick Graham IR - Ankle - 11/19/08
[RB] Clifton Dawson IR - Concussion - 11/07/08
Posted: 12/10/08 4:08PM ET