Quick Take: Colts (6-0) at Panthers (4-2)

Last meeting
In October 2003, Panthers receiver Steve Smith had 103 yards and a touchdown as Carolina defeated Indianapolis, 23-20, on a John Kasay field goal in overtime.

Carolina has won all three meetings between the two teams.

Last week
Indianapolis went into Jacksonville to take on the division-rival Jaguars on Monday Night Football and came out with a convincing 29-7 victory. With the win, the Colts became only the third team in NFL history to start three straight seasons at 6-0. ... Division-leading Carolina is coming off its bye. Two weeks ago it beat Arizona, 25-10.

At stake
Heading into a showdown with the Patriots, the Colts can't afford to overlook the Panthers. Even a single loss could prove costly to Indianapolis' chances of beating out New England for the best record in the AFC and the homefield advantage that comes with it. Now alone in first place in the NFC South after Tampa Bay's loss Sunday, Carolina has to keep piling up wins to maintain its lead over the Bucs.

Key matchup
Panthers front four vs. Colts offensive line. Stars such as Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Joseph Addai often overshadow one of the units most responsible for the Colts' explosive offense -- the offensive line. Quietly the group has become one of the league's best at both pass protection and run blocking. The line has surrendered only five sacks all season and the Colts rank sixth in rushing. Next, they confront a Panthers defensive line that is struggling this season, despite having traditonally excelled under coach John Fox. Carolina ranks last in sacks and a pedestrian 18th in rushing defense. Unless the Panthers' defensive line is able to return to its previous elite form, the Colts figure to score at will against a defense that has put no pressure on the quarterback or stopped the run consistently.

Did you know?
In his past three games against Indianapolis, Panthers quarterback David Carr (who was with the Texans for those three contests) compiled an impressive 114.7 passer rating, completing 54 of 74 passes for 520 yards and five touchdowns.

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