Undefeated reigning Super Bowl champion Indianapolis and unbeaten rival New England meet today in a historic National Football League showdown of perfect clubs and powerful passers.
For the first time since the NFL's creation in 1920, two undefeated teams with records of at least 7-0 will meet, making this the latest-season matchup of unbeatens in league history.
"These are the kinds of games you like to play in," Colts quarterback Peyton Manning said. "It's exciting for us because we're trying to stay ahead of the pack. We need everyone to play well for us to have a chance to win."
Manning, a two-time NFL Most Valuable Player, and New England quarterback Tom Brady, a two-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player, will be the stars in a game that threatens to blow the roof off the Colts' domed stadium home.
"They probably dislike us and we dislike them equally as far as that's concerned because we respect them and they respect us," said Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, who played 10 seasons for New England before joining Indy last year.
Only the Miami Dolphins' 1973 Super Bowl championship team went through an entire season undefeated to win a title, but the winner of this showdown will have the chance for such a march and be the team to beat for a Super Bowl spot.
"We always have a chip on our shoulders when we play New England. We don't like them," Colts defensive tackle Raheem Brock said.
It's no wonder. The Patriots eliminated the Colts on their way to Super Bowl titles in 2004 and 2005. New England had won their major matchups until last year when the Colts downed the Patriots on their way to the crown.
"It's always big every time we play them. It always comes to us at the end of the season," Brock said. "We want to get this one this week. It's important."
The Patriots, 8-0, have scored an NFL-best 331 points and are on pace to smash the season scoring mark. Their total of at least 34 points in each game this season is an NFL record. Their average win margin has been 25.5 points.
Brady leads NFL passers with 198 completions in 267 throws for 2,431 yards and 30 touchdowns, putting him on pace to shatter the one-season touchdown pass record of 49 set by Manning in 2004.
Randy Moss has caught 47 passes for a league-high 779 yards and an NFL-best 11 touchdowns while Wes Walker has 56 receptions for 613 yards and six touchdowns and Donte Stallworrth has 26 catches for 411 yards and three scores.
"They're a great football team and I think we've proven over the last eight weeks that we can play at a pretty high level ourselves," Brady said. "It's two undefeated teams and obviously with the history with these teams it makes for a great matchup. You know when you are playing them you are playing the best."
The Colts have won 12 games in a row dating to last season, including a 38-34 triumph over New England in last year's AFC final. That was the Colts' third win in a row over the Patriots.
Manning has completed 152 of 232 passes for 1,833 yards and 13 touchdowns and the Colts have scored at least 29 points in six of their seven games despite top receiver Marvin Harrison being hurt at times with a knee injury.
Harrison will be back for the showdown while Reggie Wayne and running back Joseph Addai give the Colts' attack versatility and depth.
The Indianapolis defense leads the NFL by leading 165.4 passing yards a game and could be the key factor against New England.