Cowboys vs. Colts: Preview, Score and More
That could be true for any game the rest of the season.
While the Cowboys enter the game 3-8 and essentially out of playoff contention following a 30-27 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Thanksgiving Day, the Colts remain in first place in the AFC South. They still have a winning record despite back-to-back losses and losses in three of four games.
Colts' quarterback Peyton Manning, the NFL's Most Valuable Player the past two seasons, has played in recent weeks with a lineup decimated by injuries to not only tight end Dallas Clark and wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez (each out for the season on injured reserve), but to running backs Joseph Addai and Mike Hart, each of whom have missed the last three games, with Addai missing the last four.
Wide receiver Austin Collie has missed two of the last three games because of a concussion, and Manning has thrown six touchdowns and seven interceptions in the last three games. Two of his interceptions were returned for touchdowns in a 36-14 loss to San Diego this past Sunday, the Colts' widest margin of defeat at home in Manning's career.
However, the Colts remain tied for first place in the division with Jacksonville at 6-5, a game ahead of Tennessee and Houston.
Dallas' playoff chances are likely over, but the Cowboys have shown marked improvement since firing former Head Coach Wade Phillips and moving offensive coordinator Jason Garrett into the interim head coaching position.
The Cowboys have won three of four games under Garrett, first beating the contending New York Giants, then beating a Lions team that has shown signs of improvement this season. The Cowboys then lost to New Orleans on a late touchdown drive by the defending Super Bowl champions. Dallas had rallied from an early 17-point deficit in the game.
Jon Kitna has started the last five games at quarterback for Dallas in place of injured Tony Romo, and rookie wide receiver Dez Bryant has established himself as one of the NFL's most-dynamic young players, catching 44 passes for 547 yards and six touchdowns and returning two punts for touchdowns.
Who: Dallas Cowboys at Indianapolis Colts.
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium; Indianapolis, Ind.
When: Sunday, December 5, 4:15 p.m.
TV Coverage: Fox.
Players to Watch: Manning has completed 317 of 486 passes for 3,344 yards and 22 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. . . . Kitna has completed 130 of 200 passes for 1,536 yards and 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions. . . . Colts' running back Donald Brown has rushed for 289 yards and a touchdown on 87 carries and running back Mike Hart has rushed for 177 yards and a touchdown on 38 carries. Hart could return from an ankle injury this week, while starting running back Joseph Addai could miss a fifth consecutive game with a neck/shoulder problem. . . . Cowboys' running back Felix Jones has rushed for 448 yards and no touchdowns on 111 carries. . . . Colts' wide receiver Reggie Wayne has caught an AFC-high 76 passes for 907 yards and four touchdowns with wide receiver Austin Collie catching 50 passes for 562 yards and six touchdowns. . . . Tight end Jacob Tamme has caught 38 passes for 369 yards and three touchdowns for the Colts. . . . Tight end Jason Witten has caught 60 passes for 660 yards and three touchdowns for Dallas and wide receiver Miles Austin has 52 receptions for 757 yards and five touchdowns. . . . Colts' defensive ends Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney have 7.5 and 7.0 sacks, respectively. . . . Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware has 9.5 sacks.
Line: Colts by 5.5.