He's a Patriot-hatin', Leftwich-slammin' and Manning-huggin' machine, ladies and gentlemen. I present to you five questions answered by BigBlueShoe, the talented writer at Stampede Blue. With a truly horrifying matchup against the Colts on the plate beside my cranberry sauce, I decided to ask my batterymate a few questions about Indy. Buckle up:
1. Peyton Manning has suffered through a pair of what I might call "better than Byron Leftwich but worse than usual Peyton" performances. Any reason to be concerned, or just the normal ups and downs of an NFL season?
BigBlueShoe:Well, for the sheer entertainment, I'd love to see Byron "Fatty McButterpants" Leftwich play minus three receivers, a back-up of the back-up playing LT, and a TE as slow as Ben Utecht. Actually no, I take that back. If I did, Fatty might not live through the second quarter.
In all seriousness though, it's a combination of injuries, lack of timing with the new guys filling in, and the normal ups and downs. I actually thought the Chargers game (2 TDs, 6 INTs) was one of the best games he's ever played, battling back from tremendous adversity. Cold Hard Football Facts disagreed with me, but they're a bunch of numb-nutted morons who cream themselves whenever Tom Brady winks at them. So, who cares what they think. Manning is battling through a very depleted offense, and despite the bad numbers, he's playing very well. His receivers (guys not named Clark or Harrison, but instead named Moorehead and Craphonso) dropped 6 balls against the Chiefs. Against the Chargers, even more. Once the regulars get healthy, Manning's numbers will improve.
2. Injuries have been hitting you guys hard. Do you expect to get some key players back before the playoffs?
BigBlueShoe: We actually expect several back for this game. WR Anthony Gonzalez, LT Tony Ugoh, and CB Dante Hughes are expected back this week. Marvin Harrison is expected back for the Jaguars game Dec. 2nd. So yes, we expect all the guys not already IRed back by the end of the regular season.
3. Joseph Addai looks like the real deal. Care to put on your projection goggles and tell us how he'll do against the Falcons and for his career?
BigBlueShoe: If Ugoh is back and playing well, Addai will get 100 yards on the Falcons. Addai is a better back than both Marshall Faulk and Edgerrin James. He's quick, shifty, and always seems to fall forward. He's also exceptional catching the ball and in pass blocking. If he stays healthy, he'll likely break Edge's career franchise rushing record.
4. The Colts have let a couple games slip out of their grasp this year. Is that a result of the defense, and are you concerned about their ability to stop a potent offense?
BigBlueShoe: Injuries and bad Special Teams play cost the Colts those two games. Against New England, they were down to two healthy WRs in the fourth quarter. NE hit some long passes, and without Tony Ugoh the Pats were able to get to Manning. Against SD, the two ST returns for TDs by the Chargers did more damage than Adam Vinatieri's missed FG from 29 yards out. The Colts have fought hard despite the injuries, but when you have this many, it affects the game. And when you play a team like NE, it helps to have all your horses in a row.
5. The Falcons don't have the world's most potent team, but they're gutty and scrappy and gosh darn it, people like them. Do you think the Colts will roll them over, or are you concerned about the team's ability to stick around?
BigBlueShoe: Any team and can anyone any given Sunday. Look at the Jets (who stink) against the Steelers. The Jets physically dominated the Steelers this past Sunday; beat them up at the point of attack. Pittsburgh had the best run offense in the league, and they were stoned by the worst run defense in the league. So yes, I am concerned about Atlanta. No team is a "given" win. Even New England could lose this week. Anything can, and likely will, happen. I obviously think the Colts will win, but the Falcons are not going to do down quietly. Nor should they. They have talent, and for all his fault, Leftwich knows the Colts well. And, all road games are tough. Atlanta will come out fighting.
Again, a big thanks to BigBlueShoe, and may his team suffer a stunning upset on Sunday.