When news broke about Peyton Manning’s status for 2011, the Indianapolis Colts, according to many analysts, were destined for oblivion. Does the presence of the former Tennessee Volunteer make a difference, of course it does. The fruit of his labor couldn’t glare any brighter than the lighting inside the RCA Dome. Without Manning, Indianapolis’ offense ranks as follows:  28th in Points per game (15.8), 26th in passing yards (187.0 a game) and 83.0 rushing yards an outing (28th).

Without him, the Colts’ offense is a shell of its former self. On the flip side, every cloud has a silver lining. Aside from being waylaid by Houston in the opening game of the season, Indianapolis has been in every game up to this point. Yes, their record is 0-4, but they are competitive. They are knocking on the door of that first win. There’s an inner grit that will keep this team from becoming only the second 0-16 team (2008 Detroit Lions were  first) since the regular season expanded to 16 games in 1978.

While I’m far from being 0-for in my weekly picks, I barely kept my head above water, thanks to an 8-8 showing from a week ago. Time to get this right:

Eagles over Bills– #DESPERATE

Panthers over Saints– The N.O. struggles to defend the pass. If they were home, I’d go the other way. #MYUPSETSPECIAL

Raiders over Texans– Andre Johnson is likely out and the second option Jacoby Jones,  is questionable. Oakland snatches one out of H-Town.

Colts over Chiefs– I said Indy is knockin’ on the door to its first win…here’s where it comes off the hinges.

Bengals over Jaguars– Both teams are better defensively than I expected. I just don’t know if Jacksonville has an answer for rookie wideout A.J. Green.

Cardinals over Vikings– Is this where Christian Ponder makes his debut?

Giants over Seahawks– Osi Umenyiora’s presence only strengthens an already formidable, Big Blue, front seven. Tavarius Jackson will get in heavy footwork this week.

Titans over Steelers– Both teams snuck by me in the directions they’re going in thus far. One is trending in the right direction, while the other is undergoing a decline. Super Bowl hangover?

Buccaneers over 49ers– With the uncertainty of Frank Gore’s health and the gamble that is Alex Smith, I’ll take Tampa Bay opening October on a winning note.

Chargers over Broncos– Unlike previous seasons, the Bolts are securing wins early. No need to think Denver can halt its division foe’s momentum.

Patriots over Jets– New England, my apologies for suggesting your time has arrived to lose consecutive games. You’ve struggled to defend the pass, but somehow Mark Sanchez will find a way to help you heal those woes.

Packers over Falcons– At the risk of sounding redundant, Atlanta’s feverish.  Since the Dirty Birds won last week,  until they change this trend, I’ll take the Pack in this one.

Lions over Bears– I’m done trying to figure out when Nick Fairley will make his NFL debut. Detroit’s defense wreaks enough havoc as it is. When he returns, we’ll know it.

Signed, sealed and delivered…we’ll be back at it in 168 hours.

By Antoine Hoffman

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