Pats or Colts? ESPN.com's experts make their picks

The showdown between the Patriots and Colts is finally here. Our panel of experts offer their predictions.

Originally Published: November 2, 2007
ESPN.com

With the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts set to square off in one of the biggest regular-season matchups in league history, ESPN.com's NFL writers offer their predictions on the epic showdown.

Jeffri Chadiha

Chadiha Prediction
Colts 31, Patriots 28
There's been so much attention given to the Patriots' electric start that people forget one thing: Indianapolis won the Super Bowl last season and is even better this season.

The Colts have beaten stronger teams than the ones New England has faced. They absolutely whipped a Jacksonville team two weeks ago that is as physical as any squad in the NFL. Furthermore, the Colts won't be intimidated by the Patriots' high-flying offense. Bob Sanders leads a defense that ranks first in the NFL in passing yards allowed (165.4), and second in points given up (14.6) per game.

The only concern Indianapolis should have is the health of wide receiver Marvin Harrison and left tackle Tony Ugoh. Harrison apparently could've played in last week's win over Carolina, but head coach Tony Dungy decided his bruised knee needed extra time to heal. If both players are available, we should see a repeat of what happened in last year's AFC Championship Game: plenty of points, plenty of drama and, in the end, a Colts victory.

John Clayton

Clayton Prediction
Colts 41, Patriots 38
I think the Colts will edge the Patriots. Nevertheless, I still think the Patriots will win the Super Bowl. In fact, after seeing the way the schedule shapes up, the Patriots can still lose this game and rally down the stretch to clinch home-field advantage.

Tom Brady has had a better career than Peyton Manning, but Manning has the slight edge as the game's best quarterback. That may sound crazy, with Brady on pace to shatter Manning's touchdown record of 49. But Manning manages the game in a manner that puts so much pressure on the opposing quarterback to score touchdowns. Like Brady, Manning can come from behind with two or three touchdown drives in the fourth quarter. Plus, the Colts' defense doesn't give up the big plays that it did a year ago.

Matt Mosley

Mosley Prediction
Patriots 35, Colts 24
I desperately want this game to live up to the hype but fear it won't. The Titans and Panthers actually slowed the Colts down at times. They did it by forcing Peyton Manning out of the pocket. About the only thing he doesn't do well is throw on the run. Bill Belichick will bring pressure from everwhere. Every week he brings a new wrinkle, and last week it was playing cornerback Randall Gay at safety.

The Colts are going to have inexperience at left tackle, and Belichick will feed off that.

The way the Patriots have beaten the Colts in the past is to come out throwing a lot early, then gashing them with the run. People say New England's offense hasn't been challenged, but that's not quite fair. We thought the Chargers, Cowboys and Redskins had pretty solid defenses before the Patriots played them.

Maybe it's time to accept that this is one of the most prolific offenses in league history and no one can stop them. The Patriots win big.

Len Pasquarelli

Pasquarelli Prediction
Patriots 41, Colts 41
There hasn't been a tie game in the NFL since Nov. 10, 2002, when Pittsburgh and Atlanta played to a 34-34 stalemate. So the league is certainly overdue for one. Both offenses will go up and down the field for four quarters before the defenses figure things out in the extra stanza. And then the Colts and Patriots can do this all over again in the AFC Championship Game, with even more hype, if possible, than this time.

Mike Sando

Sando Prediction
Patriots 37, Colts 24
The contrarian picks the Colts and hopes for the best. Everyone else acknowledges the obvious: New England is playing at another level by every measure. The Colts will score, but the Patriots will probably score more unless Indianapolis can rough up Tom Brady.

Dwight Freeney knocked Jacksonville's David Garrard out of the game two weeks ago, and crowd noise will play to the Colts' speed on defense. But no quarterback in the league avoids trouble as effectively as Brady. If he's healthy, the Patriots have too many weapons to lose a big game, even against the defending champs.

More ESPN experts

Here's the picks from our other NFL experts. To see all the predictions for Week 9, go to our Sunday Countdown page and our Experts page.

• Patriots will win: Emmitt Smith, Keyshawn Johnson, Ron Jaworski, Sean Salisbury, Merril Hoge, Mark Schlereth, Seth Wickersham

• Colts will win: Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Chris Mortensen, Eric Allen, Mike Golic