|Eagles vs. Indianpolis Colts|
|Sun., Nov. 7, 4:15 PM, CBS, Lincoln Financial Field|
Andy Reid's perfect record following a bye week will be put to the ultimate test when the Eagles welcome in Peyton Manning and the defending AFC Champion Indianapolis Colts to Lincoln Financial Field for the first time.
The Colts completed one of the most impressive decades in NFL history last season with a record 115 regular season wins. They were 14-2 last season, which was the seventh straight season with 12-or-more wins, another NFL record. For the sixth time in seven years, the Colts were division champions. And no team has made as many consecutive playoff appearances as the Colts have with eight.
Indianapolis came up short in a thrilling Super Bowl, but will be the one of the favorites to make another run in 2010. Mind you, last year was supposed to be a transition year with rookie head coach Jim Caldwell replacing Tony Dungy and first-year defensive coordinator Larry Coyer moving away from the traditional Tampa 2 scheme.
In this matchup, the Eagles could look to a former Colts for some help.
The Eagles essentially rented wide receiver Hank Baskett to the Colts last year after the numbers game at wide receiver caught up with the veteran. On the Colts, Baskett was primarily a special teams player who gained notoriety for his role in the onsides kick to open the second half of the Super Bowl. The Eagles also signed defensive back Marlin Jackson, a first-round pick of the Colts in 2005, but Jackson is out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon.
Manning remains the focal point of the Colts offense and has a new array of weapons to work with. After Marvin Harrison was Manning's go-to guy for years, Manning now has Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie along with entrenched stars Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark. Plus, Anthony Gonzalez, who was expected to be a integral cog of the offense before an injury last year, will be back.
The Colts have focused on improving the protection for Manning after team president Bill Polian was highly critical of the offensive line's performance in the Super Bowl. The Colts signed guard Andy Alleman and offensive tackle Adam Terry and released longtime starters Ryan Diem and Ryan Lilja.
On defense, middle linebacker Gary Brackett anchors Coyer's aggressive, attacking style of defense which is designed to open up more one-on-one matchups for Pro Bowl ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, who are ranked first and second, respectively, in franchise history for sacks. To that mix at defensive end, they added TCU-product Jerry Hughes with their pick in the first round. Despite adjusting to a new defense, the Colts finished eighth in the league in points allowed. And that was primarily without playmaking safety Bob Sanders, who battled through injuries for the second straight season but is expected to be ready to go in 2010.
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 8:15 p.m., July 5