Before the season started, the Colts - Cowboys game would probably have been considered a highlight of the schedule: Two potential Super Bowl favorites meeting late in the season for a preview of the big game - that certainly had a nice ring to it.
Things turned out differently. The Cowboys are out of the playoff race but are desperate to show that they are turning their season around, the Colts look like they'll only make the playoffs if they win their division and are desperate for a few more wins this season.
So it's an important game for the both teams, but in vastly different ways from what we all thought a mere 12 weeks ago. We already know who the BTB writers think will win the game, after the break we look at which team other news outlets and blogs pick to win the game.
CBSSports' five-man panel is unanimous in picking the Colts to win. Pete Prisco has has the Colts edging the Cowboys 34-30.
The Cowboys have shown life the past three weeks, and probably should have beaten the Saints last week. The Colts have problems. They looked awful against San Diego. The injuries have caught up to them. But Peyton Manning doesn't have two consecutive bad games and the Cowboys have struggled to defend the pass. The Colts win, but the Cowboys make it interesting.
Profootballtalk lead writers are split 1-1. Mike Florio picks the Cowboys 17-23.
Chargers defensive coordinator Ron Rivera gave the Cowboys the blueprint for beating Peyton Manning in his own building. Some may think the Colts at 6-6 would be inconceivable. Some may not realize that the word doesn’t mean what they think it means.
Gregg Rosenthal, one of the other guys at PFT, likes the Colts 27-20.
The Cowboys loss on Thanksgiving was more impressive than the two wins under Jason Garrett. The Wade Phillips Cowboys would have rolled over. The Colts are coming off their worst performance in memory, but only face one winning team (Jacksonville) the rest of the season. Peyton Manning should respond against a secondary that continues to struggle.
ColdHardFootballFacts: Colts 31, Cowboys 28.
Perhaps for the first time since his rookie season, Peyton Manning is in a certifiable slump. The Colts have lost three of five since the bye week and find themselves battling for their playoff lives with five games to go, a very unfamiliar position for a team that’s been as dominant in the regular season over the last decade as any team in NFL history.
The Cowboys, meanwhile, have played very well since firing Wade Phillips and exorcising the Curse of Flutie three weeks ago. Only an unfortunate Roy Williams fumble late in the fourth quarter on Thanksgiving Day prevented Dallas from beating the Saints and winning its third straight in three tries since Jason Garrett took over for Phillips.
But then again, it’s plays like Williams’ fumble that have kept the Cowboys down all year, and it’s why such a talented team finds itself sitting at 3-8, playing a spoiler role late in the season instead of getting ready for the playoffs.
Indy’s advantages when the Dallas defense is on the field will carry the day for the Colts
Foxsport's writers come down 4-2 in favor of the Colts. Peter Schrager picks the Colts 33-20, and offers tthis piece of commentary:
With an eighth consecutive 12-win season now no longer possible, the Colts can just focus on making the playoffs. "Ironically, we're still tied for first place in our division," coach Jim Caldwell said earlier this week. "We still control our own destiny. (Jacksonville) still owns the tiebreaker on us at this point. But, nevertheless, we still have an opportunity to reach our No. 1 goal. That's the thing that we try to focus in on. What we're looking at is the next game. We haven't been eliminated from anything at this point in time." Indy’s only going to get healthier, and several key players are returning in the coming weeks. Peyton Manning won’t lose three straight games, especially two in a row at home.
Sportingnews's writers favor the Colts 5-1. In its weekly 'Scouts Views' the SN doesn't just have the Colts winning against the Cowboys, they also predict the Colts will win their final five.
Despite an avalanche of injuries, we believe the Colts will win out and make the postseason. They have two games against the Tennessee Titans, a team in disarray, a home game against the Jacksonville Jaguars and a road game against the Oakland Raiders.
Their toughest test might come this week against the revived Dallas Cowboys. Look for Peyton Manning to put it on his shoulders and carve up a defense that has allowed 40 pass plays of 20 yards or more.
Peter King: Colts 30, Cowboys 27.
Came very close to picking Dallas; check out Jon Kitna's remarkable play, particularly his 73 percent passing in the past two games. But I'm sure it's been a fire-drill kind of mentality around the Colts this week. Can't see Peyton Manning playing poorly here.
The eight USAToday panelists all have the Colts winning the match. Pete O'Brian predicts a 28-21 score.
ESPN's eight experts favor the Cowboys 5-3. Do the guys in Bristol know something the other experts don't? They probably do, but is it true?
The DMN staff picks come down squarely on Indy's side: Seven out of nine writers pick the Colts. Cowlishaw and Fraley just scored major bonus points in my book for picking the Cowboys.
Yahoosport's trio of columnists favor the Cowboys 2-1. Making a mental note that I must spend more time on Yahoo. 87% of Yahoo users think the Colts will win. Mental note deleted.
What's your pick for tomorrow?