With 35 TD passes in nine games, Peyton Manning is well on his way to shattering Dan Marino's record of 48 in a season. Indianapolis' game in climate-controlled Detroit on Thursday figures to be another big step on the way.
Manning is a great quarterback having a great season. But he's been helped by climate control. His home games are in a dome, and this one is indoors, too. And only one of the Colts' remaining road games is likely to be affected by weather, the finale Jan. 2 in Denver, when he probably will already own the mark.
Indianapolis is favored by 9 points against the Lions, who have lost their last four games. It doesn't help them that the Colts' defense has gotten better since allowing 45 points and 590 yards in Kansas City on Oct. 31 it has surrendered just 273 yards a game in the last three victories.
But while three of the Lions' four wins have been on the road this season, they tend to play pretty well in their Thanksgiving fixture. They were competitive last week in Minnesota, leading most of the way before losing 22-19.
Nor does the Colts' defense rank with the best yet.
The Lions make it close.
Chicago (plus 3 1/2) at Dallas (Thursday)
The Colts brought the Bears back to reality last week. The Cowboys aren't the Colts, but ...
Baltimore (plus 7) at New England
The Patriots are coming off a Monday night road game and Kyle Boller is starting to improve.
St. Louis (plus 6) at Green Bay (Monday night)
The Rams lost at Miami and at Buffalo. Why should they win in Green Bay?
Philadelphia (minus 7) at New York Giants
Eli Manning gave the Giants a lift last week. But the Eagles are by far the NFC's best team.
Miami (off) at San Francisco
Good thing it's off. Neither of these teams deserves to be a favorite.
New Orleans (plus 9 1/2) at Atlanta
The Saints are last in NFL in total defense, rushing defense, passing defense, yards allowed per play, and first downs allowed per game.
Jacksonville (plus 5 1/2) at Minnesota
Two wounded warriors, Byron Leftwich and Randy Moss, could return.
San Diego (plus 3) at Kansas City
The Chargers have lost their last seven visits to Arrowhead. It has to stop sometime.
Buffalo (plus 5) at Seattle
The Seahawks may lead the NFC West, but they're a huge disappointment.
New York Jets (minus 3) at Arizona
The Cardinals have won three straight at home and Quincy Carter is still the Jets' QB.
Cleveland (plus 6) at Cincinnati
Does the spread represent what the public thinks of the improved Bengals or the declining Browns?
Oakland (plus 11) at Denver
Mike Shanahan loves to crush the Raiders.
Washington (plus 11) at Pittsburgh
Misery, misery, misery for Joe Gibbs.
Tampa Bay (minus 2 1/2) at Carolina
Nick Goings has had his one big game.
Tennessee (minus 1 1/2) at Houston
Give Steve McNair a slight edge over the conservative Texans.
LAST WEEK: 9-6-1 (spread), 13-3 (straight up)
SEASON: 80-77-3 (spread), 105-55 (straight up)
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