- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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This situation could impact the NFC South. If Manning misses the opener, it’s not a big deal because the opener is at Houston. But there could be implications if it takes longer than that for Manning to recover from offseason neck surgery.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are first in line. They host the Colts in a Week Four (Oct. 3) "Monday Night Football" game. A potential Manning absence might hurt at the box office because the Bucs thought this game would sell out. If Collins is running the Colts, that might jeopardize the sellout, but it should only help the Bucs on the field. Collins is an experienced quarterback, but he’s not Manning and probably won’t be running the no-huddle offense that could give a young defense fits.
The Colts also are on the schedule for the other three NFC South teams. The Saints are scheduled to host Indianapolis on Oct. 23. If Manning’s not ready to go, that could ruin the great story line of the quarterback returning to his hometown.
Manning’s recovery would really have to drag on for the other two NFC South teams to feel the impact. The Falcons travel to Indianapolis on Nov. 6 and the Panthers play there Nov. 27.