It doesn't quite seem fair, does it?
The Indianapolis Colts -- one of the NFL's best teams for the past decade -- have fallen apart this season just in time to acquire their next franchise quarterback.
Peyton Manning hasn't played all season because of injury problems and his absence has shown just how vulnerable the Colts are without him. Now 0-10 Indianapolis is two games clear of the rest of the field in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes, assuming the Stanford redshirt junior comes out for the 2012 draft.
Most teams stumble through a succession of mediocre quarterbacks when they have to replace a star. Green Bay is an exception with Aaron Rodgers succeeding Brett Favre, but Miami's dry run after Dan Marino and Denver's after John Elway are more of the rule.
But not the Colts. As bad as they are this season, they won't be for long, because either Luck or Southern Cal's fast-rising Matt Barkley is destined to replace Manning at some point.
-- It has been eight years since the Panthers have played the Colts in Indianapolis. I remember covering that 2003 game vividly in large part because it was so darn loud -- I didn't know until then what a passionate fan base the Colts really had. The Panthers won in overtime, 23-20, on a long John Kasay field goal. My ears rang coming out of the stadium like they do after a really loud concert -- although it was totally silent after Kasay's kick. Somehow I don't think it will be quite that loud Sunday.
-- If there was ever an offense for the Panthers' defense to get well against, it's this one. Indianapolis has scored 10 points or fewer in its past four games. The Panthers average giving up 28.6 points per game -- second-worst in the NFL to the Colts' 30 (that number being somewhat skewed by the 62 points the Colts gave up to New Orleans).
-- Should be a nice battle Sunday between Panther left tackle Jordan Gross and Indianapolis right defensive end Dwight Freeney. Freeney, the Colts' all-time leading sacker, needs 1.5 sacks to get to 100 for his career.
-- I've gotten back on track picking the Panthers' outcomes, predicting them correctly the past two weeks. On Sunday, Carolina will notch its third win of the season. Final score: Carolina 31, Indianapolis 23.
What is the NFL's exempt list?
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