Colts best weapon remains Peyton Manning
With the NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium consigned to the history books, I can finally pause for breath and take stock of the NFL as we enter the final two months of the regular season.
As we all suspected heading into 2010, the race to reach Super Bowl XLV in North Texas (why it is not officially labelled as a Dallas Super Bowl is beyond me) is going to feature many teams.
And the eventual winner may be hiding somewhere in the middle of the pack right now. When teams are as closely matched as they are in the NFL at the moment, it can often be the club that gets hottest at the right time who emerges with the big prize.
There have been some high-profile casualties this season as the Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals and San Diego Chargers have combined to post a record of nine wins and 20 losses. It bears repeating that these four teams reached the final eight on the road to last year's NFL title game.
Peyton Manning is having another exceptional season for the Colts
By contrast, one fancied club still very much in the race in 2010 are the Indianapolis Colts and, given the injuries they have suffered on both sides of the ball, that is a glowing testament to how important quarterback Peyton Manning is to that franchise.
I think the Colts could lose just about anyone else on their roster and Manning would give them a chance to win every weekend. But if number 18 goes down, with all due respect to backup passer Curtis Painter, they are done. The loss would simply be too much to overcome.
But with Manning at the helm, the Colts have shown they can withstand a variety of key injuries and still sit atop the AFC South Division with a 5-2 record.
At various times this year, Indianapolis have been without starting running back Joseph Addai, valuable wide receivers Austin Collie, Anthony Gonzalez and Pierre Garcon and perhaps, most damaging of all, perennial Pro Bowl tight end Dallas Clark has been lost for the season with a wrist injury.
The four-time league Most Valuable Player has thrown for 2,184 yards, 15 touchdowns and just two interceptions. That is scarily good.
With so many young and inexperienced players around him, it helps that Manning is the most intelligent quarterback in the NFL. .
So many quarterbacks in the NFL today are puppets for their offensive coordinator and head coach. They are given the play from the sidelines and are expected to run it to perfection. Some of the biggest names in the game - Tom Brady and Brett Favre - take the majority of their instructions from the sidelines and only rarely change the play at the line of scrimmage.
Not Peyton Manning and these Colts.
On any given play, Manning will be given two and sometimes three plays from the sidelines. He has the freedom to change anything he wishes but if he likes those options, he will call all three in the huddle and then tell his team-mates to await instructions at the line of scrimmage.
To be able to do that is an incredible luxury and affords the Colts an offensive advantage that no other team in the NFL is able to enjoy.
But what also makes Manning one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time is his ability to get the best out of those around him.
There are quarterbacks in the NFL who would not react the same way as Manning if they lost a star wide receiver. Many of them would go to the next veteran in line rather than put their trust in someone they have rarely worked with in the past. They would certainly not immediately turn to an untested youngster.
Manning does that whenever necessary.
During a Week 3 win over the Denver Broncos, Manning was playing without the injured Garcon, which meant Blair White was thrust into the action having only just been promoted from the practice squad. An undrafted rookie out of Michigan State was about to play alongside a true legend of the game.
Manning couldn't have cared less where White had come from - he was going to give the youngster a chance. If he was open, Manning was going to find him and he wasn't going to shy away if White dropped a couple of passes.
White responded to being given such an opportunity and played a key role in the 27-13 win, catching three passes and scoring a crucial touchdown.
We know all about Manning's arm strength and accuracy, but it is his desire to win, his trust in the young targets around him and his intelligence which has driven the Colts through what could have been a rocky first half of the season.
It has not always been easy this term, but Manning gives the Colts a chance to win every time he steps on the field. That's about as good a definition of greatness as you're likely to find.
Week 9 on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra
We will bring listeners live action from the Colts' visit to the Philadelphia Eagles on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra from 9pm on Sunday and we couldn't have two more different quarterbacks going head to head.
Michael Vick is set to return for the Eagles and while he boasts sprinter's speed and breathtaking moves, Manning resembles a giraffe on ice when he attempts to scramble downfield.
That is not Manning's strength, of course, and he will be licking his lips at the prospect of taking on a secondary that was shredded by the Tennessee Titans two weeks ago.
Vick could also find the going tough against the Colts. Indy has a defense which can get man-handled at times, but what they boast in abundance is speed. And that is something you need to defend the most electrifying quarterback in the NFL.
I try not to bet against Peyton Manning too many times and, for that reason, I'm going for the Colts to win what should be a close-fought contest.