Peyton Manning Must Carry the Colts Once Again

Peyton Manning will accomplish more things on a football field than he'll ever be able to remember, but he'll never forget third-and-5 in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLIV.

With a chance to achieve the defining moment of his career, the Colts' quarterback threw a game-losing interception to Saints cornerback Tracy Porter, who danced 74 yards to the end zone. To see if Indianapolis can get back to the biggest stage, let's take a closer look at the Colts on the 24th stop of NESN.com's 32-day cruise through the NFL.

2009 Record: 14-2, AFC South champions (lost to Saints in Super Bowl)

2010 Schedule Difficulty: Their opponents went a combined 132-124 (.516 winning percentage) in 2009, which is tied for the 10th-most difficult schedule in the NFL.

Key Additions: Defensive end Jerry Hughes (draft)

Key Losses: Cornerback Marlin Jackson, quarterback Jim Sorgi

Burning Question: Will Peyton Manning get any help this season? It's absolutely remarkable that the Colts won their first 14 regular-season games and had a legitimate chance to go 16-0. Manning was more reliable than a Honda, setting an NFL record with seven game-winning drives in the fourth quarter (though Manning must have traded that Accord in for a horse and buggy with triangular wheels in the Super Bowl).

Anyway, Manning was Indy's one-man show in 2009, completing 68.6 percent of his passes for 4,500 yards, 33 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. He routinely hooked up with wide receiver Reggie Wayne and tight end Dallas Clark, but Manning also turned Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon into legitimate receiving threats.

Manning turned in one of the great regular-season performances of all time, but without a few more giant performances from his teammates or head coach Jim Caldwell, he won't win that second Super Bowl.

2010 Outlook: Everything went right for the Colts in the first 14 games of the 2009 regular season, and they ran away with the AFC South as a result. Tennessee and Houston will be hungrier this season, and the Colts will have a more difficult task at hand in 2010.

Still, expect Manning and company to remain on top of their division.

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