"Sportswriters and broadcasters love to build up drama for events they’ll cover by hyping a game as being the most important one ever in some way. But when it comes to Sunday’s AFC Championship game at the RCA Dome, there’s no other way to state it.

So many careers and reputations are at stake, and so much money is on the line, it’s the most important game any Indiana sports team, amateur or professional, has ever played.

If the last two weeks are any predictor, it will also be one of the least interesting and most ugly games ever played, too.

The Colts won two playoff games they had no business winning. The law of averages suggests the team will perform better this week. Manning will not be shut down for three consecutive weeks, no matter what defense the Patriots try.

The running back duo of Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai may be the most underrated in the NFL, but the play of those two, more so than that of Manning or Marvin Harrison, is the reason the Colts are even alive to play Sunday. Their good-cop, bad-cop routine, where one would soften up the defense for the other to come in and scamper free, rivals that of Deuce MacAllister and Reggie Bush in New Orleans.

The Colts will obviously have to score touchdowns, not field goals, to beat the Patriots. Their free ride ends here. But an aggressive passing campaign, combined with a solid running game, should prevail over New England’s sometimes-they’re-great, sometimes-they’re-ghastly offense.

More than any of those things, the Colts will win on Sunday because it is their due. Remember, the Indianapolis Colts are an outlaw team. They packed up the Mayflower vans and moved their shit from Baltimore to Indy in the middle of the night, the reflection of a middle finger in the rearview mirror their last message to their former home.

This year, they’ve lucked their way through the playoffs and stolen victory from defeat. The Colts shouldn’t be playing this game. They should have been beaten by now. But they are playing. And, given everything, they’ve got a great shot to win.

Sometimes life just works that way. Tough luck, New England.

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