After Monday's report that Peyton Manning is likely doubtful for Week 1, there's plenty of uncertainty surrounding the quarterback as he rehabs from neck surgery and how much time he will miss. Both Manning's consecutive games started streak (227) and Indianapolis' postseason streak (nine years) are in jeopardy. How many games can Manning miss before the Colts' playoff hopes become unrealistic?
- Albert Breer NFL Network
Four is the limit
I don't believe the Colts are in for a complete shutdown if Manning can't play. The team still has talent on the perimeter and, if they can build leads, a defense that can play from ahead. It'll be a matter of treading water. Indy will be in great shape if it can go 2-2 through the first four weeks -- at Houston, vs. Cleveland, vs. Pittsburgh, at Tampa Bay. But whenever Manning returns, there will have to be re-acclimation, as was proven when he missed the preseason in 2008. So it's important he gets his feet wet before what could be critical games in Week 7 at New Orleans and Week 9 vs. Atlanta. A tough start, compounded with losses in those ones, could spell doom for Indy.
- Steve Wyche NFL.com
Weren't we asking the same question about Ben Roethlisberger and the Super-Bowl bound Steelers this time last season? Granted, the Steelers' defense is far more reliable than the Colts' unit but it's not time to panic.
I'll put the number of games Manning could miss at six. I think 4-2 would be the benchmark. Anything worse without Manning could be dicey because the team would look at Manning as the life raft instead of a part of an overall good team. That's never good.
- Dave Dameshek NFL.com
Colts headed for 6-10
Hear me now, believe me later: The Colts will finish 6-10 and Bill Polian will be to blame. It's his fault for not developing a capable backup to Manning over the past decade. Spare me the excuses that no free agent QB was interested in wearing a headset while watching Manning take every snap season after season. The Patriots, Steelers, Packers, Eagles and other perennial contenders have managed to cultivate a halfway decent second-string QB. At this point, the Colts will be forced to lean on the less-than-dynamic duo of Joseph Addai and Donald Brown to pick up the slack on offense. It's safe to assume they're not up to the task.
- Jason La Canfora NFL Network
Ordinary outfit at best
The margin between the Colts and other teams was already closing. Manning was already coming off a season in which he threw too many picks. The offensive line already had concerns.
Sans Manning, the Colts are an ordinary outfit at best. He covers up many holes and makes others around him better. Kerry Collins is a major upgrade over Curtis Painter, but it's nothing close to the same offense minus Manning.
- Bucky Brooks NFL.com
All eyes on Collins
The Colts cannot withstand being without Manning beyond four games. They're not talented enough to overcome the loss of their top player for longer because he single-handedly raises the level of play of the supporting cast. While Collins gives them an experienced signal-caller, his lack of familiarity with the nuances of their system is very limiting. How well Collins assimilates could bolster the Colts' chances without Manning.
- Pat Kirwan NFL.com
Not built to win without Manning
The Steelers didn't have Roethlisberger for four weeks and still went to the Super Bowl last season. The difference is Pittsburgh relied on a dominating defense and power run game to get through the tough times. The Colts ranked 25th against the run in 2010 and had the 29th run offense. Indianapolis isn't built to play without Manning. He practically runs the practices like an offensive coordinator. While every team hopes the backup can go .500 when he's in for the starter, I could see the Colts at 1-4 if Manning misses five weeks. The good news, there's just one division game on the docket in the first five weeks.