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I'm not the only one

Join senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Dennis from Marion, AR:
Thank you, Vic! I thought I was the only one disgusted with Peyton's foolishness. I live way too close to Tennessee; anything ill said about Peyton here will get you lynched. I love your column. Please keep up the good work.

Vic: I'm amazed at how many e-mails I got from readers thanking me for sharing in words their irritation for Peyton Manning's hyperactivity at the line of scrimmage. I thought my inbox was going to melt due to all of the e-mails. Some of the e-mails expressed deep emotion, as though I had relieved their authors of some great suffering. I thought I was the only person who wants to see Manning go down under a 12-man pass-rush. What I found out is that I'm joined by a large cult of football fans who find Manning too maddening to watch. I got a handful of angry e-mails from Colts and Manning fans, but that's to be understood. The guy is a heckuva regular-season quarterback; there's no denying that. It's just that I can't stand to watch him play. It's like being stopped in traffic and one of the kids has to go to the bathroom.

Scot from Jacksonville:
Amen on your article about college football and the bowls and poll system and the joke that it truly is. So what changes would you make to the NFL scheduling process to make it more balanced, not just for the divisional title races but also the wild-card races? Is there a solution at all? You can't go by last year's record because you have such parity that teams vary in record tremendously from year to year.

Vic: I don't have a system but if I had to create one I would start with this: Since winning your division is so important, then all teams within the same division must play the same schedule. We still haven't gotten completely away from the last-place schedule concept. We still have those two games in which the winners play the winners and the second-place teams play the second-place teams, etc. Those two games are making a difference. When you look at the playoff seedings, it's obvious that winning your division is a prerequisite for postseason success. The wild-card teams have to win three on the road to get to the Super Bowl, which has only ever been done once, by New England in 1985. If you wanna go to the Super Bowl, you better win your division. I'm OK with that because I think eight four-team divisions certainly provide a watered-down-enough product that you can't complain that the deck was stacked against you. But a lot of last year's division winners are clearly finding the scheduling deck stacked against them this season. New England, San Diego and Pittsburgh, for example, have faced much more grueling schedules than the teams with whom they compete in their divisions. In my opinion, that's what has to end. If this is going to be all about winning your division, then the schedules of teams within those divisions must be identical, in regards to opponents.

Zack from Jacksonville:
What do you think will happen to David Garrard after this year? If the Jaguars do trade him, how much do you think he's worth and which teams would be interested?

Vic: That's what's going to be determined over the next five weeks. I'm taking an open mind into this thing. Everyone knows I have been ultra-supportive of Byron Leftwich. David Garrard's backers have bashed me for not seeing that David should be the team's starting quarterback. OK, now he is. I'll watch and then I'll judge. In my opinion, when Leftwich has recovered from his broken ankle and he's ready to play, he'll resume his role as the team's starting quarterback. But if David plays at a higher level than Byron has, and if it should happen that David quarterbacks the Jaguars deep into the postseason, I'll say, "Not so fast my friend." Production always speaks loudest and we can't close our minds to it. My mind is open. I'll form opinions as events unfold.

Ben from Columbus, OH:
I will be attending the game this Sunday in Cleveland and I have a question for you. Should I wear my Leftwich jersey with layers underneath or my Jaguars winter coat?

Vic: The important thing is that you identify yourself as vividly as possible. After all, you're going into a stadium whose field was showered with thousands of beer bottles four years ago. It's most important that you give the brain-donors left over from that dark day on the lakefront the best possible target for their anger. Now think about that. Is that a smart thing to do?

Tonga from Inglewood, CA:
If at the end of the year the Jags and Bengals have the same record and the Bengals win the AFC North, who would have the higher draft pick?

Vic: Division titles have nothing to do with the draft order. The teams other than the two teams in the Super Bowl are arranged according to their records. For example, all 10-6 teams are grouped together, but they are ordered in the first round according to their previous season's strength of schedule; the team that played the least-difficult difficult is at the head of the group. In the second round, the team at the top in the first round goes to the back of the group and the others move up. That formula continues in each round. The two Super Bowl teams draft 31st and 32nd, loser first.

Dave from Bath, PA:
I was watching ESPN the other day and somebody said the Colts offense is the best ever. I tend to disagree. What do you think is the best offense ever?

Vic: I tend to think the 1984 49ers offense is the best I ever saw.

Cory from Jacksonville:
Have you heard the accusations of the Colts piping crowd noise through the speakers? The NFL isn't investigating it because they don't want their precious Colts to be cheaters.

Vic: Yeah, I was surprised when I read a story that said the NFL is satisfied that the Colts aren't piping noise into the RCA Dome and that they're not going to investigate. It's especially surprising since media people have cited microphones on poles and reported accusations that those microphones are used to capture crowd noise and amplify it when the visiting team comes to the line of scrimmage. ESPN's Ed Werder also reported that the Colts pumped up the volume at the RCA Dome this past Monday. The Colts issued a statement denying the charge. I've talked to people who have no doubt that the Colts have been piping in crowd noise. I'm really starting to believe the Colts are being favored by the league.

Geoff from Sydney, Australia:
During the Colts-Steelers game Marvel Smith was giving away the snap count with his head when he was in the game. He would turn his head toward Freeney just before the ball was snapped. Did anyone notice this?

Vic: In that din, you do anything you can to survive. You're playing against the fastest pass-rusher in the game and you have to turn your head away from him to see the ball snapped because you can't hear the snap count. By the time you turn your head toward Dwight Freeney, he's gone. I'm sure Smith was trying to anticipate the snap.

Keith from Jacksonville:
Is the salary cap mess the Colts and Redskins are facing anywhere near as bad as the Jags situation in 2002?

Vic: It's worse because they won't be able to dump $17 million of amortization on the Texans.

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