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AFC Wide Open With Manning Down

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(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Miami Dolphins

MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – The road to the Super Bowl in the AFC looks to be getting a little bit easier Thursday. That’s because legendary Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning is out for an undetermined number of games.

Colts owner Jim Irsay tweeted Wednesday night that “#18’s out for awhile, but compete, we will/BELIEVE.”

Irsay may believe, but not many other NFL experts believe the Colts can survive any significant amount of time without Manning under center.

Manning is having problems recovering from another surgery on his neck that has spawned other issues for the All-Pro quarterback.

The loss of Manning means the Colts will have to turn to journeyman Kerry Collins to direct what little he knows of the Colts’ complicated offense. Collins has only been with the team for a few weeks as he tries to absorb the offense.

The Colts have won their division every year except 2008 and 2002, when the Tennessee Titans won the AFC South. With the exception of 2010, the Colts have made it to at least the AFC Divisional Playoffs every season they’ve won the South.

As the Colts woes continue, it opens the door for another team to storm into the top of the conference. The Houston Texans, who visit Miami in the second week of the season are in the best position to capitalize on the Colts’ offensive problems.

For the Dolphins and the rest of the AFC, Manning’s absence means the playoff race will likely only have one team from the AFC South, which should make the wild card hunt something to behold.

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