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Can the Carolina Panthers hold down Manning and the Colts?

Pro Picks

Posted: Friday, October 10, 2003

Now that he's handled Tampa Bay's defense, Peyton Manning takes on another elite unit when he faces Carolina.

The Panthers go to Indianapolis on Sunday for a game between two of the NFL's four remaining unbeaten teams, another classic offense vs. defense confrontation.

Coming off their historic comeback in Tampa on Monday night, the Colts are favored by five points.

That's largely because of Manning, who is playing as well as he ever has in six pro seasons. He threw six TD passes in New Orleans two weeks ago, then brought the Colts back from 21 down with less than four minutes left to beat the Bucs 38-35 in overtime.

The Panthers are upset about last week's game, a 19-13 win over New Orleans, because they allowed the Saints 155 yards on the ground, 124 by Deuce McAllister.

''From my standpoint, in how your team reacts and the pride they build in their unit, I think that's a good thing,'' coach John Fox said. ''We did enough good things to win, that is what you look for. But you strive for perfection and sometimes that is hard to obtain.''

The Colts present a different challenge in Manning, who threw for 386 yards against a banged-up Bucs secondary.

The major question is whether the Colts will let down emotionally (and physically) after all that happened Monday night. The guess here is they won't.

COLTS, 22-12

Kansas City (plus 2) at Green Bay

The Packers already knocked Seattle off the unbeaten list. The Chiefs are due to lose, but Green Bay has to kick away from Dante Hall.

PACKERS, 24-16

Philadelphia (minus 1) at Dallas

The Eagles could have Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent back at cornerback. Donovan McNabb's still not in form, but ...

EAGLES, 20-16

Tampa Bay (off) at Washington

The Bucs are battered and down after blowing a 21-point lead Monday night, another piece of good luck for the Skins, who keep playing teams with major injuries. The injuries are why this game is off the board.

All five of Washington's games have been decided by three points or fewer.

BUCS, 16-13

Pittsburgh (plus 7) at Denver

Mike Shanahan is so cocky about his Broncos that he shrugged at what might have been a clip on Dante Hall's return that beat Denver last week in Kansas City.

BRONCOS, 30-13

New York Giants (plus 3) at New England

How much will Bill Belichick's blitzes confuse Kerry Collins?

GIANTS, 24-23

San Francisco (plus 3 1/2) at Seattle

Mike Holmgren promises the Seahawks will bounce back.

SEAHAWKS, 20-10

Miami (minus 3) at Jacksonville

The AFC East is the Dolphins' for the taking.

DOLPHINS, 20-10

Chicago (plus 5 1/2) at New Orleans

Back to normal for the Bears.

SAINTS, 34-16

Atlanta (plus 11) at St. Louis

By the time Vick returns, the Falcons will be dead.

RAMS, 36-19

Houston (plus 10) at Tennessee

Houston at ex-Houston.

EX-HOUSTON, 29-11

Oakland (plus 3) at Cleveland

All Tim Couch needed was a benching.

BROWNS, 27-12

Buffalo (minus 3) at New York Jets

Upset time.

JETS, 16-13

Baltimore (minus 5 1/2) at Arizona

Unless it's 106 degrees ...

RAVENS, 20-3

LAST WEEK: 7-6-1 (spread); 5-9 (straight up)

OVERALL: 40-32-2 (spread); 45-29 (straight up)



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