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Colts can clinch home advantage

Statements can be made today in the NFL even by teams whose playoff spots are all but assured.

Statements can be made today in the NFL even by teams whose playoff spots are all but assured. The undefeated Indianapolis Colts (12-0) host the Denver Broncos (8-4) and will be trying to set a NFL record for consecutive regular-season victories. If they beat the Broncos, the Colts will have won 22 in a row, breaking a record set by the New England Patriots. More importantly, they could lock up home field advantage throughout the play-offs.

To do it they have to get by an unpredictable Broncos' team. Denver won their first six, lost their next four and won their last two. In those two wins the Broncos have outscored their opponents 70-19, but today they are up against the best-balanced team in football. The Colts are second in the NFL in fewest points allowed and fourth in scoring. The New Orleans Saints (12-0) will try to keep pace with the Colts against a desperate Atlanta Falcons (6-6). New Orleans have already clinched the NFC South and beat Atlanta last month despite committing four turnovers. Today they face an injury-riddled Falcons who figure to be without quarterback Matt Ryan and running back Michael Turner.

Although Atlanta have lost three of their last four they have an outside chance of becoming a wildcard play-off contender - but only if they can unseat the Saints. Do not count on that, especially if Atlanta's backup quarterback Chris Redman starts. He played in his first game in two years last week and threw two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown. The Minnesota Vikings (10-2) will try to bounce back from a dismal performance against the Arizona Cardinals when they meet the Cincinnati Bengals (9-3) in an inter-conference showdown between potential Super Bowl finalists. The Vikings' quarterback Brett Favre had an uncharacteristically mistaken-laden game in Arizona and must rebound. If he does not, critics will wonder if the 40-year-old Favre is backsliding as he did late last year with the Jets.


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