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TheMirl.com
Every week, TheMirl.com will pose a question to the contributors of The Writers and the webmasters of
The Writers' favorite sites based on the current events of the day. The answers will be posted every
Thursday.

Will the Indianapolis Colts go 16-0? Should Tony Dungy rest
his starters for the Playoffs?

Anastasia Monponsett:
The Colts look really, really good. Peyton is in command of his offense, he has great players around
him.... and the team finally has a defense to brag on.

It's hard not to like them. Manning seems to be a good kid, no one is
humping cheerleaders after scores or fighting in the locker room, and
they set records as they win ball games.

What's better... they do it in the Old School fashion. They didn't go out and
sign 20 guys to outrageous long term deals. They drafted well, and
scored free agents to fill holes. They brought in a defensive-minded
coach, and things finally seem to be gelling for them.

They've taken their lumps, mostly at the hands of the New England Patriots. Every season seems to
end the same for Peyton and Edge... terrible routs in a storm of snow and misery. The best picture I've
ever seen of Manning is one where he is picking himself up off the Foxboro turf with a big clod of
grass stuck in his helmet.

As much as I enjoyed THAT, it is the kind of thing that makes a guy work harder in the offseason. A
guy who does that comes in better prepared the next year. From there, it's only a matter of Execution...
and catching a few breaks.

Indy has caught the breaks. They get games against the pitiful Texans, fading Baltimore and
Tennessee. Sacking David Carr twenty times a year has a way of fattening the old W-L record.
They also have avoided injuries. Remember when Edge missed half of the schedule. Remember
when all of Peyton's wideouts were injured? Remember Dwight Freeney's stroke? Oh yeah... none of
that happened.

I hope that they do lose a game. I hope that they do it on purpose. If they are 15-0 and playing Arizona
in some meaningless season-closer, they should just bite the bullet and start all the chumps.
This wrecks any shot at immortality, but I'd rather win a Super Bowl than have Edge snap his
collarbone trying to rub it in the face of Larry Czonka's memories. If Peyton is going to associate
anything with the playoffs other than disappointment and pain, they should give up the Ghost of
Mercury Morris and go after the damn Super Bowl. As soon as home field is secure, they should
bench everyone and worry about running the playoffs for some real cheddar. That regular season
stuff is pure punk juice.

Manning was the MVP last year, broke tons of records, and was the undisputed top dog of every
football page I saw last year.... until the Patriots beat him like a mouthy serf when the games actually
mattered. If he's any kind of competitor, he could give a damn about any record that doesn't involve a
Super Bowl win.

Tom Brady doesn't set any records, but he has a fat Ring Hand, bangs an actress, meets the Prez
and the Pope, does Visa commercials... many children in America have seen no one else win the
Super Bowl.

That's the guy you want to be.... not the fair-weather punk who falls apart like a Chinese stereo once
the games matter. Bite the bullet, start the chumps, and set your eyes on the real prize.

Trevor Freeman:
If the Indianapolis Colts lose a game in the regular season, it will be next week against San Diego at
home.  Conventional wisdom would have them losing to Seattle in Seattle, however I am going to
disagree with that for two reasons.

First off, this is an absolute must-win for San Diego.  At 8-5, San Diego is fighting it out with Kansas
City and Pittsburgh for the last playoff spot (assuming Jacksonville devours the three cupcakes in
front of them). Any loss for the Chargers from here on out would be highly damaging. Toss in the fact
that Indy clinched homefield advantage last week and you would figure Indy might be giving guys who
are banged up a chance to rest.  That should also help San Diego.  It will be interesting to see how
the Colts play this game.  I cannot see the Colts leaving their weapons out on the field for a full game
when they are all meaningless towards improving playoff position.

I’m in the camp that while the Colts don’t want to lose a game………a loss wouldn’t be a bad thing.  
The NFL Playoffs and the NCAA Tournament are very similar in that you do not want to be perfect
going in.  It just magnifies what is already a pressure-filled situation.  Every play-call would be more
thoroughly examined than ever before.  Add in that the Colts are probably going to get Tom Brady and
New England in Round Two and just imagine the weight that will be on the shoulders of Tony Dungy
and Peyton Manning if the Colts are undefeated going into that tilt.

Adam Schwartz:
I am always against resting players.  Now that they will have the bye in the playoffs and don't have to
travel, there is no need to rest anyone.  if they start to rest players, then they are losing game
experience and will just be having practice experience.  In addition, they are playing against some
teams fighting for playoff berths so it will keep them at, not just game, but playoff level intensity.  Only
way you take players out is a blowout, for or against.

Eric Hornick:
The Colts have a date with history, and that can not and should not be ignored.

Most of the 1972 Dolphins have been out of football for over 25 years but they are still remembered for
that perfect season.  

If someone is going to beat them, my bet is Seattle.  The teams play on Christmas Eve in Seattle.  
This could even be a Super Bowl preview, which presents other issues to coaches Tony Dungy and
Paul Holmgren.

San Diego may give them a game in the Dome this Sunday but the Colts could beat Arizona on New
Year's Day without ever letting Peyton Manning off the bench.

However, when you're this close to history...put the pedal to the metal...and go for it.  This isn't the Pac-
10; you may never get another chance.

If Dungy follow Herm Edwards' motto "You play to win the game", they'll win all three of these games
and make regular season history.

The NFL Edge:
I don't think that Dungy will sit the starters, for several reasons. First, what does
it mean to sit the starters? If the literal meaning is taken, then it is highly
unlikely he'll sit them for an entire game. This rarely happens. Usually starters
sit after playing at least a quarter or a half. The NFL would probably be unhappy
if only backups were fielded for an entire game.

Second, the words of Montae Raegor say it best: "We want to keep our rhythm,
keep our chemistry. We want to keep on playing until coach says no." Sitting the
starters for an entire game or two, as well as during the bye, will likely affect the
rhythm of the team, as well as losing a fine edge on their conditioning.

Finally, if Indy is well ahead after a half, then sure they'll sit the starters. But if they're in a tough game,
perhaps against San Diego this weekend, they won't. Why would they miss out on an opportunity to
hone their skills against a good opponent heading into the playoffs? Goodness knows they haven't
had a lot of meaningful competition lately.

Bottom line: Forget it. The players want to play and, while there is a possibility of injury, there is also a
substantial downside to sitting them.

Brian Carriveau:
The Colts will not only go 16-0, but this also your Super Bowl winner.  This team is focused on its
goal of winning a Super Bowl and nothing is going to stop it.

The Colts have been a playoff contender for a while, but they finally are well rounded team here in
2005.  They have a running game to help take pressure off of Payton Manning and his talented corps
or receivers.  And all the offseason work the Colts have put into improving their defense has paid of
as well.

Nothing is going to stop Payton Manning from winning the Super Bowl this year.  While Tony Dungy
should choose to rest some of his starters in the second half of some of his remaining games, there
is simply too many games left in the season to rest everyone.  Add in the bye that the Colts will get
during wild card weekend and it is still five weeks until the Colts play their first playoff game.  That is
too long to lay low while the rest of the season plays itself out.  Maybe only during the final week of the
regular season should the premiere players sit out a significant amount of time.

Teri Berg:
Could the Colts go 16-0? Absolutely. Will they? I'd give it a better than 50/50 chance if only because
Seattle might be resting its players at that point too, saving their strength for the playoffs. I will be
disappointed if too many starters sit, though. Watching Andy Reid rest his Iggles last year before the
postseason was just excruciating -- TV execs are paying for this? Advertisers are shelling out big
bucks to hawk their wares through such a derivative and boring programming? Yukkity. At least keep
the starters in for the first half -- the Colts could likely run up the score, then hope that lasts through
the fourth quarter, should Tony Dungy choose to disappoint football fans by subbing his second
string in.

Scott Blankenship (Monsters of the Midway):
Yes the Colts will go 16-0 and they will win with their starters in as long as it takes to get the victory.  
They cannot rest players when something this rare is within reach.  The closest game will come from
San Diego this weekend and I think it will be a high-scoring affair.

Eric Caterina:
The Colts will not go 16-0 for one simple reason: Seattle. The Seahawks are one heck of a solid
team right now, and the Colts won't know what hit them. A real deciding factor may be whether or not
Tony Dungy rests his starters, which I do not believe he should. You don't want to rest Peyton, Edge,
and Marvin because: 1) there goes the 16-0 hopes, and 2) There is always a chance of one of those
stars going cold and out of rhythm while warming the bench.

C.J. Papa:
Peyton Manning seems to do everything right on the football field.  So I believe that his team will run
the table and go 16-0 in the regular season.  Tony Dungy understands the importance of this task
and will play his starters until he sets the new standard in the NFL History.  It is not often that in sports
you have the opportunity to create history and when you do you must sieze the opportunity to put your
name in the record books.  No one thought the Dolphins record could be reached but that will change
this weekend.  Dungy and the rest of his staff have the responsibility to try to match Miami and then sit
back and watch in the future as some other team or teams try to equal his record.

Bob Rosen:
If I'm Tony Dungy in this position right now, I rest my players and get ready for the postseason. Even if
you go undefeated, if you don't win the Super Bowl, your team won't be remembered like they would if
they won the Big Game but lost two or three regular season games in the process. The whole idea of
an NFL season is to be the Super Bowl champions for it to be called sucessful. And like they used to
say in the mafia, (and maybe still do say it), "you gotta do watcha gotta do." So Tony...rest those guys
and get them ready for the Big One.

Jerry Milani:
The 2005 Colts are in territory where few have gone before:  13-0.  Those
great Steelers teams never got there.  Neither did Lombardi's Packers or
Landry's Cowboys.  And that was when teams stayed together for years (the
1962 Packers are nearly 50% the same roster in 1968).

Of course, in the modern era, only the 1972 Dolphins have gone through a
season unscathed (with
1957 pro bowler Earl Morrall behind center!).

It's time for that to change.

The Colts have a chance to put together the new Perfect Season, one even
more impressive than what the Buoniconti Boys did 33 (!) years ago.  Player movement, anti-
dynasty/pro-parity rules and two extra games would make this 19-0 a grade above the Dolph's 17-0.

I say, go for it.

Sure, the first priority is to win the championship, yada, yada, yada.  But someone wins it every year.  A
string of injuries or bad luck in 2006 would put this team with all the other one-hit wonders like the '85
Bears and the '96 Packers and the '99 Rams.  We may remember those teams for one thing or
another, but the '72 Dolphins.  We'll never forget them -- of course, they'll never let us forget with the
annoying cork-popping parties and other such humble pronouncements.

Injuries?  They can happen by dropping glass on your foot (Mr. Dorsett) or falling in the driveway (Mr.
Griese) or replacing a light bulb (Mr. Bowens).

Forget owing it to the fans or the NFL or anyone else; the Colts owe it to themselves to go for it all.

I say, 19-0, here we come.
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