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CBSSports.com Senior NFL Columnist

Power Rankings: Colts as bad as Packers are good


Updated Nov. 1

I always believed Peyton Manning was the MVP on any team.

Now I am convinced of it.

If the Colts don't win a game this year, Manning might actually get MVP votes. With Manning missing all eight games so far with a neck injury, the Colts don't even compete anymore.

And I don't buy the notion that the team is without talent. How many teams would love to have tight end Dallas Clark and receiver Reggie Wayne? How many would take Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney as ends? What about free safety Antoine Bethea?

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Those five were all considered at least top-10 players at their positions heading into the season.

Without Manning? Not so much.

Manning's impact on Clark and Wayne has been obvious. The impact on Freeney and Mathis and Bethea hasn't been as apparent, but it's there.

Without Manning, the Colts don't play with the lead as much. That means speed rushers Freeney and Mathis don't get the pin their ears and rush as much and Bethea doesn't get to play a free-wheeling center field.

Freeney has 4 1/2 sacks and Mathis has 3 1/2. They were held without a sack in the Colts loss to the Titans on Sunday. Bethea has yet to get an interception.

The Colts are 0-8 at the halfway point, holding onto the No. 32 spot in my CBSSports.com Power Rankings. They are tied with Miami for the race to the top overall pick, but they clearly look to be the favorite. At least Miami is competing.

There is talk big changes could be coming in Indianapolis. Colts owner Jim Irsay isn't one to just sit back and wait. Coach Jim Caldwell could be in trouble. General manager Bill Polian and son Chris Polian, who run the football side of things, also could be in trouble.

Some of those moves would be rash, knee-jerk reactions. I don't think it would be right to clean house based on this season. They've had too much success to wipe the slate clean based on the Manning injury.

What the Colts are finding out is just how valuable Manning is to their team -- in more ways than just throwing the football.

No offense to Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, but my Halfway MVP just might be a guy who spent the first eight games watching from the sidelines.


Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.

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