Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.
Indianapolis @ Tennessee (+3)
Peyton Manning threw four interceptions—two of which were returned for touchdowns—in last week’s 38-35 overtime loss to the Cowboys. Manning has thrown 11 interceptions in the Colts last three games, all losses, and at 6-6, trail the Jaguars by a game in the AFC South race.
“Frankly, I’m stunned,” Manning said, “that we were ever 6-3. It seems I’m regressing. I’m playing like a rookie, or a sixth-year Eli Manning. I’ve thrown four interceptions in the last two games that have been returned for touchdowns. I’ve been known to ‘read’ a defense; lately, I’ve shown a penchant to ‘feed’ a defense."
"Maybe our lack of a defense, or a running game, or a go-to tight end, or a complimentary wide receiver to Reggie Wayne are the reason for my troubles. Maybe I’m trying to do too much. As my good friend Ben Roethlisberger knows, ‘forcing it’ usually leads to trouble.”
While the Colts have lost three in a row, the Titans have dropped five straight and questions are abound as to Jeff Fisher’s future as head coach.
“Rumors of my demise,” said Jeff Fisher, “are as premature as those of Manning’s. Like my offense, I’m not going anywhere. As for Manning, his lackluster play is obviously a transparent ploy to lower his market value, thus allowing the Colts to justifiably offer him less for an extension and spend more on things desperately needed, like a durable running back, or a bionic arm for Bob Sanders. That’s just a testament to the unselfishness of Manning. I would never consider excluding Peyton from a meeting. Peyton has no regrets about saying to consumers, ‘Cut that meat!’ I have no qualms about saying to Vince Young, ‘Cut that meeting.’”
One team will rebound; one will fall further into the spiraling depths of despair. It’s hard to imagine the Colts falling below .500; then again, it’s hard to imagine that Eli could possibly be considered the better Manning. If the Colts are to make the playoffs, they’ll do so atop the back of Peyton.
Manning throws for 345 yards and three scores and the Colts survive a big day from Chris Johnson.
Indianapolis wins 27-22.