Homers and Haters, Indianapolis edition

Note: This article was written for the Carolina Huddle fan site, and originally appeared in their forums here.

Carolina welcomes the defending Super Bowl champs to Bank of America Stadium this week. The Panthers are fresh off a bye while the Colts are playing their second straight road game on a short week.

The Colts have one of the most potent offenses in the NFL. They’re led by one of the best quarterbacks in the game, and sport a balanced offense that’s ranked third in the league in scoring and total yards.

On defense the Colts field a disciplined group that generally doesn’t make mistakes. They have tremendous speed and are outstanding in coverage. Indianapolis plays a cover two type of defense, and are first in the league in pass defense, third in yards surrendered, and sixth in points allowed.

Here are the units the Colts will bring to BofA Stadium on Sunday:

Quarterback
Peyton Manning is arguably the best quarterback playing the game right now, and is the current leader for career passer rating among active QBs. Manning is currently putting up over 250 yards per game and has thrown 11 TD passes versus only three interceptions. He is known for his audibles and ability to keep a defense on it’s heels. Manning is not so much a playmaker as he is an expert tactician; he knows every trick in the book for wearing down a defense and makes all of them look easy. He also rarely makes mistakes, which just makes defending him that much harder.

Homer says: “Manning is a great player, but he needs a team effort to show it. Under pressure he can be just as ordinary as anyone. The key here will be Peppers and Jenkins, if they can bring pressure from the line then Manning won’t be able to pick the Panthers apart. The Panthers also need to control the clock and try and keep Manning from finding his rhythm. Not easy, but can be done.”

Hater says: “This is the original laser-rocket-arm QB… Manning gets rid of the ball too fast for the Panthers to get pressure on him. He also manages the game well enough to keep the defense guessing and ineffective. The big question on Sunday will be what happens more often, a Manning touchdown pass or a flag on Jenkins for jumping offsides.”

Running Backs
Joseph Addai (100 carries, 492 yards, 5 TDs) shoulders the primary running duties for the Colts. Standing at six feet and 215 pounds, Addai is a straight-ahead runner who also excels at catching passes out of the backfield. He has excellent speed and does well after contact. Kenton Keith (66 carries, 311 yards) backs up Addai and is more of a cutback runner who is good at picking up the blitz.

Homer says: “Addai is good, not great. He gets a big benefit from the distraction Manning provides. We have a line that does real well against straight-ahead runners, and our linebackers have the speed to plug holes as they open. This one is on Morgan, and if he returns Sunday we should be able to contain their running game.”

Hater says: “It’s not fair that the best quarterback in the league lines up next to a running back who’s good for five yards per carry. The Panthers aren’t exactly lighting it up this year in rushing defense (they’re 18th in the league), and Addai will probably go over 100 easy. What’s worse is his ability to catch out of the backfield. And when he gets tired they can go to Keith with no drop-off at all. Not a pretty thought…”

Wide Receivers/Tight End
The Colts receiving corps ranks as one of the best in the NFL. Eight-time pro-bowler Marvin Harrison (20 rec, 247 yards, 1 TD) and 2006 pro-bowl teammate Reggie Wayne (37 rec, 500 yards, 4 TDs) are the only wide receiver tandem in NFL history to catch 75 receptions and 1,000 yards in 3 straight s