With the AFC South clinched and the #2 seed locked up in the playoffs, the Colts have absolutely nothing to play for against the last two opponents on the regular season schedule: Houston and Tennessee. This is in stark contrast to last season, where the Colts had to win the final game of the season against the Dolphins to lock up the #3 seed. If history is any indicator, Tony Dungy will now start pulling starters and conceding games. Yes, when you pull players who SHOULD play for players who never do, that is conceding the game.
Peyton Manning will have none of it, apparently:
"This is not the time to sit back,'' Manning said. "This is the time to keep going, in my opinion. I've already told (quarterbacks coach) Jim Caldwell. I need more time with these new players.''
He was asked if he feared a repeat of 2005. That year, the Colts clinched everything after 13 games, played their starters in a loss to San Diego, then sat their front-line people the last two regular season games.
"I certainly would not like that to be the case,'' Manning said unflinchingly. "The coaches will meet and come up with a plan, but with the new players, the more game experience, the better. I'd like to be in there the entire game next week.''
If history is an indicator, that's going to be a tough sell. Dungy has never bought the notion that the Colts lost to Pittsburgh in the 2005 playoffs because of the long layoff. If he sits Manning and the starters, they won't be happy, but it's not a coach's job to keep everybody happy. He can't afford to lose a front-liner -- especially Manning -- in a game that means nothing.
I think it's a mistake if Dungy starts resting starters.