Peyton Manning's Injury: 5 Ways It Will Affect Indianapolis Colts' Season

James ToljCorrespondent IISeptember 5, 2011

Peyton Manning's Injury: 5 Ways It Will Affect Indianapolis Colts' Season

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    No one knows exactly how long the Indianapolis Colts' quarterback, Peyton Manning, will be out.

    Like with most injuries to good players, even if the Colts knew an exact date of return, they wouldn't break the aura of silence around the issue for just for SportsCenter's sake.

    It is fair to assume that at the very least, Manning will be out for the season opener at Houston. So with that in mind, just how much will the team be affected by his absence?

The Running Game

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    The Colts have never been a dominant running team, and their offensive line isn't the best in the NFL either. With the loss of Manning, being productive in the running game could go from a difficult task to impossible.

    If Manning is out, Kerry Collins will almost assuredly get the starting nod. That means defenses, even ones as bad as the Houston Texans (although maybe Wade Phillips will help), will be able to stack the line of scrimmage to stuff Joseph Addai and Donald Brown.

    Unless Kerry Collins can show he still has the ability to stretch the field, the Colts' running game will be nonexistent.

The Receiving Core

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    The Colts' offense is predicated upon a fast-paced, extremely accurate passing attack. If Peyton Manning is replaced by an aging Kerry Collins, the Colts will have to switch up their whole offensive system

    Even Colts receiver Reggie Wayne was unsure if Collins would be able to master the Colts' intricate offense.

    If anyone has a chance of picking up the offense in a few weeks, it's Collins, who has seen his fair share of playbooks. However, even if Collins can memorize the playbook like the back of his hand, the Colts likely will be unable to do half the things that they could with Manning under center.

You Make the Defense Look Bad

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    One thing fans don't always realize is if your offense is bad, it makes your defense look bad.

    When a team is constantly going three-and-out or can't put together a sustained drive, the defense stays on the field.

    There are two problems with that.

    One is that the defense gets tired and wears down. Eventually even a great defense will exhaust.

    The other is that the more opportunities a team gets to score, the more likely it will happen. Seems obvious, doesn't it?

    Remember that when judging the Carolina Panthers' defense, you have to take notice of just how horrible their offense was last season.

    If the Colts' offense can't manage to put up some yardage, not even a line filled with Dwight Freeneys could get to the quarterback after being on the field all game.

Austin Collie's Health

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    All the Colt receivers will be affected by the change at quarterback, but no one will miss Manning more than Austin Collie.

    Collie's season ended last year after a third concussion left him laying lifeless on the field. Collie is tough as nails, but without Manning—who is unmatched in his precision passing game—no one will be there to place the ball in spots that help Collie avoid injury.

    And while Manning wasn't quite able to keep Collie from getting hurt last year, you can bet Collie's safety would be on his mind.

Fantasy Dud

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    With fantasy football becoming more popular by the second, more people—some not even fans—will be concerned with the health of Manning.

    Obviously, Manning makes the Colts tick. Everyone's statistics depend on him.

    If he can get healthy soon, the Colts player's fantasy values go right back where they started, at the top of draft lists. But if not, Dallas Clark, Austin Collie, Pierre Garcon, Reggie Wayne and Joseph Addai are all dependent on Kerri Collins.

    The same guy who didn't do much to salvage anyone on the Tennessee Titans' value last year (Chris Johnson salvaged himself).

    So if Collins is the guy leading the team, the Colts' only value in fantasy is picking the opposing team's defense.