This Sunday -- brace yourself for this shocking news -- the Colts will travel to Foxborough to take on the Patriots. BBS calls it the best rivalry in pro sports and I'm hard-pressed to disagree (then again, I don't really care about MLB and the NBA is so boringly top-heavy and over-officiated that I'm stretched to give much sentiment to pro basketball anymore.)
It should be an exciting week. It should be a week full of smack talk and overconfidence. It should send me searching for Fitzy and Patriots Planet and Bill Simmons' articles and photographic evidence that Cris Collinsworth has a Tom Brady love doll in his bedroom closet. I should be searching YouTube for clips of "Fourth-and-Jackass" or Reggie Wayne's game-winning touchdown catch last year, or better yet the crowd reaction to Marlin Jackson's game-sealing interception of Tom Brady in the 2006 AFC Championship game. It should be, by all means, an overhyped, cliche-ridden week aimed at building up a rivalry that hardly needs exaggeration.
Yet it's Thursday and this week, this year, I'm just not into it. I have to admit, this season has really taken its toll on me as both a fan and a writer. I'm a realist, but I try to look for the positives. And it's not that you can't find any positives in a 6-3 season; a lot of teams would kill to be a division-leading 6-3 right now. But the injury reports are just exhausting, overwhelming. Every week you think things are going to start looking up, two more guys turn up in walking boots. Every time Phil B gives you the slightest bit of hope that a guy like Joseph Addai might return, reports the next week peg him as a likely inactive.
This should be a celebration of two great franchises participating in the best pro sports rivalry. Instead, it feels like same ol' Pats, coaching up unheralded players and gaining momentum as the season rolls on, hosting a Colts squad that will be hard-pressed to get out of their hospital beds. I imagine, to Patriots fans, this must sound an awful lot like 2005, when the Colts absolutely trounced an injury-riddled New England secondary, so I won't generate much sympathy in that regard. But for me, personally, it's just difficult to be as excited about this week as I would be any other year if these teams were healthy.
It feels like, instead of a championed showdown, a game the Colts just need to survive so that they can play out their schedule and be healthy enough to keep the division title from Tennessee. I'm sure that's more pessimistic than most of you would like to see from a Stampede Blue writer, from a fan tasked with covering this team. But, like I said, I'm a realist. And realistically, I just don't see the Colts being healthy enough this week to do their part in keeping this rivalry alive. If they do, I'll be the first to admit I was wrong.
Links after the jump.
FROM THE SADDLE
Official Team News
- John Oehser (Special to Colts.com) With two interception returns for touchdowns this season, Kelvin Hayden's confidence is growing.
- Jake Thompson (Colts.com) Nobody is surprised that Jacob Tamme is playing well.
- NFL Week 11 Preview.
- Videos / Media
GREEN APPLES AND ROAD APPLES
Positive and Negative Analysis
- Paul Kuharsky (ESPN)
- Phillip B. Wilson (Indy Star)
- Mike Chappell (Indy Star)
- John Oesher (Indy Football Report, AOL Fanhouse)
- Jacob Crocker (Coltzilla) looks at some revealing offensive game stats for the past two weeks.
- TJ Higley (Coltzilla) takes a look at the Week 10 Power Rankings.
- Scott Bolander (Blue Sunday)
- Joe Baker (18-to-88) thinks the Colts are struggling in the redzone.
IN THE PADDOCK
News About This Week's Opponent
- Christopher L. Gasper (The Boston Globe) The real rivalry isn't Manning v. Belichick, but Manning v. Brady [editor's note: notice how you never see Belichick v. Caldwell or Brady v. Caldwell...]
- Greg A. Bedard (Boston Globe) Disguising the defense is imperative for the Patriots.
- Patriots.com offers a game preview.
OUTSIDE THE STABLE
Around the League
Jim Wyatt (The Tennessean) Vince Young defends his toughness.
- John McClain (The Houston Chronicle) The only thing the Texans' defense hits is rock bottom [editor's note: ZING!]
- Vito Stellino (The Florida Times-Union) Despite their improbable last-second win against the Texans, the Jaguars are facing a blackout for Sunday's showdown against Cleveland.