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News » The News-Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Ind., Reggie Hayes column: Reggie Hayes: Colts are favored, no question

The News-Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Ind., Reggie Hayes column: Reggie Hayes: Colts are favored, no question

The News-Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Ind., Reggie Hayes column: Reggie Hayes: Colts are favored, no question
Nov. 29--You can tell an NFL game looks one-sided by the subject matter of questions during the week leading up.

Consider these pressing inquiries thrown at the Indianapolis Colts in preparation for their game against Cleveland at 1 p.m. Sunday in Cleveland Browns Stadium:

--Are you worried about cold weather?

--What do you think about the Browns switching quarterbacks again?

--Can you avoid overconfidence?

--Is Jamal Lewis the runner he used to be?

--Did we mention it's going to be cold, and do you ever wear long sleeves when it's cold?

Judging by the lack of meaty strategic questions, it can be correctly assumed the 7-4 Colts are heavy favorites to beat the underachieving 4-7 Browns. A win would be the Colts' fifth straight and continue their march toward a wild-card playoff berth.

(By the way, the other common question was "What's Bob Sanders' health status?" But that's asked weekly regardless of opponent. He's questionable, again.)

This isn't a game that produces endless talk about strategy, tactics, compelling match-ups or rivalry.

The template for the game is obvious. The Colts' offense must continue what it has done of late, putting up solid running numbers, posting outstanding passing numbers and avoiding turnovers. Defensively, they'll try to bend but not break, force field goals instead of touchdowns and keep pressing for takeaways, whether strips (via Robert Mathis, most likely) or picks (probably by Melvin Bullitt, making the most of Sanders' aches and pains.) But even if the questions aren't pressing, let's answer them anyway:

--Are the Colts worried about cold weather?

"We've been there a few times in cold-weather games, going back to 1999," Colts quarterback Peyton Manning said. "You expect that again, especially when you're playing them in late November."

The forecast calls for a high of 40 with snow flurries in Cleveland on Sunday. Colts running back Dominic Rhodes said he'd rather move the game to a dome, but said the Colts would be ready nonetheless. Give points to Rhodes for honesty.

--What about the Browns switching from Brady Quinn, out with injury, back to Derek Anderson at quarterback?

"We're preparing for the guy that played against the Giants (a 35-14 Cleveland win) and played against Jacksonville (a 23-17 win) and put points up on two good defenses," coach Tony Dungy said. "We'll see what happens, but (Anderson) is a great player."

"Great" might be stretching a bit, considering Anderson has completed less than 50 percent of his passes this season (126 of 257) with nine touchdowns, eight picks and a 66.0 passer rating.

--Can the Colts avoid overconfidence, considering the Browns are out of the playoff picture and in a funk?

"I don't think their record is indicative of what kind of team they have," Manning said.

"When you get to this point, you're not looking at records; you're looking at who you're playing and what they do well. They have good playmakers on defense. They have an explosive offense. So we know we need to score some points. That's all we look at."

--Is Lewis as tough a runner as he used to be when he was racking up massive yardage with the Ravens?

"He's still a big threat," Colts linebacker Gary Brackett said. "He runs north and south. He runs downhill. He lowers his shoulder and delivers a blow when he runs the ball."

Lewis has rushed for 716 yards this season, at a 3.7 yards-per-carry rate. That's modest. However, the Colts have struggled at times to slow opposing backs down, and the conditions could favor a power running game.

--Speaking of conditions, would the Colts consider wearing sleeves if they temperatures are really bitter?

"No sleeves," Rhodes said. "Maybe something on my legs."

"I don't like sleeves," tight end Dallas Clark said. "They just seem too slick when I've got the ball."

Clark doesn't wear gloves in any kind of weather. But, he said, he has a pouch on the front of his jersey to warm his hands between plays.

Yes, this game produced a discussion of pouches.

There you have the scoops.

It could be cold. Anderson has shown he can lead effectively, albeit that was a month ago before he lost his job. Lewis can lower his shoulder and hit you, even if it's 3.7 yards from the line of scrimmage. And sleeves are taboo, but pouches are hot.

Funny, I can't remember a single mention of an epic battle or any reasons why the Colts shouldn't rock Cleveland.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. E-mail Reggie Hayes at rhayes@news- sentinel.com.

To see more of The News-Sentinel, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.FortWayne.com. Copyright (c) 2008, The News-Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Ind. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For reprints, email tmsreprints@permissionsgroup.com, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 30, 2008

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