This week, the Colts will face another unfamiliar opponent in the Atlanta Falcons.
Obviously, since Atlanta plays in the NFC South, the Colts don't get a chance to face the Dirty Birds too often. In fact, this will only be the 16th meeting between the two teams, despite the fact that their first game was in 1966.
The contests have been mostly one-sided as the Colts hold a 13-2 record against the Falcons. Their only losses, oddly enough, came in Peyton Manning's first year as a Colt, and his last year as a Colt. The Falcons won the most recent outing in 2011, decimating the Curtis Painter led Colts by a score of 31-7.
The Colts head to Atlanta on November 22, for this year's edition of the game. And (in a situation that worked out perfectly for me) the last time the Colts went to Atlanta was exactly eight years prior on November 22, 2007.
Naturally, that's the game I'll focus on today.
The game was actually one of the Thanksgiving slate of games in 2007, as the Colts and Falcons played the night cap.
Heading into the game, the Colts were 8-2, with their two losses coming in back-to-back weeks against the Patriots and Chargers. They were coming off of a last second win at home against the Chiefs.
The Falcons were going in the opposite direction. They were 3-7 and coming off of a blowout loss at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The team was coached (for three more games) by Bobby Petrino. They were also in their first season without quarterback Michael Vick, who in the off-season had been suspended for an indefinite amount of time.
The Falcons got the game started off fast. Morten Anderson got the score started with a 34 yard kick to give Atlanta the early lead. Only three minutes later, Joey Harrington hit Roddy White for a 48 yard score to give Atlanta an early 10-0 lead.
Only 18 seconds into the second quarter, the Colts cut the lead to three when Peyton Manning hit Reggie Wayne on a 23 yard pass. Anderson would add another field goal to push the Falcons lead back up to 13-7.
That was the end of the Falcons' scoring.
The Colts scored two more times in the second when Manning looked toward his tight ends. First he found Dallas Clark on a quick 8 yard pass. Then Manning found Ben Utecht for a 5 yard score. This put the Colts up 21-13 going into the half.
In the third quarter, running back Joseph Addai scampered into the endzone from 4 yards out to push the lead to 28-13. Later in the period, Adam Vinatieri would tack on a field goal. This would be the final score as the Colts would win 31-13.
The teams continued on opposite trajectories the rest of the season. The Colts would finish 13-3, only losing their season finale to the Tennessee Titans, allowing the Titans to reach the playoffs instead of the Cleveland Browns.
The Falcons would win one more game, beating the Seattle Seahawks in a 44-41 shootout in the final week of the season. Petrino would also leave after Week 14 of the season.
In the playoffs, the Colts again went one and done, losing to the San Diego Chargers in the divisional round. The Falcons would hold the third pick in the NFL draft, where they selected Matt Ryan to be their QB of the future. That's a move that seems to have worked out.
On Sunday, eight years after this matchup, the Colts will again head into Atlanta to take on the Falcons looking to win their 14th game in 16 tries against the Falcons.