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Colts look for happy homecoming
The road to the Superbowl continues through the divisional playoffs.
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2007 14:09 GMT

Joseph Addai in action against the Kansas City Chiefs [AFP]

Bert Jones and Lydell Mitchell were the stars when the Colts last hosted a playoff game in Baltimore more than 29 years ago.

Located in Indianapolis since 1984, the Colts now return as visitors to face the second-seeded Baltimore Ravens in the National Football League's divisional playoffs on Saturday.
The Colts won three NFL championships and a Super Bowl title when they were based in Baltimore.
The Ravens won a Super Bowl for the city as well after the 2000 season.

The winner will face the winner of the game between the San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots in the AFC championship game.
  
In other playoff games, the Bears try to snap a home losing streak and the Saints host a playoff game for first time in six years.
  
Perhaps the most memorable postseason game at Baltimore was the last one played here by the Colts - a 37-31 double-overtime loss to the Oakland Raiders in December 1977.
  
This game matches Peyton Manning, the NFL's highest-rated quarterback, against the league's best defence.
  
Manning has been to the AFC championship game just once in his nine-year career.
  
This season, he led the NFL with a 101.0 passer rating, completing 65 percent of his passes for 4,397 yards, 31 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. Pro Bowl targets Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne ranked second and third, respectively, in the AFC in receiving yards.
  
But getting to the AFC championship game for a second time will entail beating the Ravens, who allowed a league-low 201 points (12.6 per game) this season.
  
Middle linebacker Ray Lewis is the face of the Ravens' defence.  He was the MVP in Super Bowl XXXV when the Ravens beat the New York Giants and a two-time Defensive Player of the Year.
  
However, Lewis was not elected to the Pro Bowl this season.
  
Instead, those honours went to linebacker Adalius Thomas, defensive end Terrell Suggs, safety Ed Reed and cornerback Chris McAlister.
  
Harrison and Wayne, who combined for 181 catches for 2,676 yards and 21 touchdowns, will match up against McAlister and Samari Rolle.  But Manning is most concerned with Reed, who has 27 career interceptions.
  
Coach Marty Schottenheimer and top-seeded San Diego host Bill Belichick and the fourth-seeded Patriots in a second round playoff match up on Sunday.
  
Schottenheimer leads all active coaches with 200 regular-season wins, but is 5-12 in the playoffs with Cleveland, Kansas City and San Diego. He never has been to a Super Bowl, going 0-3 in AFC championship games.

Bears continue hibernation?
  
The Chicago Bears have lost their last three postseason games at Soldier Field. To end that skid, they must beat the defending NFC champions.
The top-seeded Bears meet the fourth-seeded Seahawks in the NFC playoff game on Sunday.
  
The winner will face the winner of the game between the Saints and Eagles.
  
The Bears lost at home to the Carolina Panthers, 29-21, last January in the divisional playoffs, marking their third straight home postseason defeat.
  
Chicago had the best record in the NFC this season, but quarterback Rex Grossman has caused plenty of angst in the Windy City. He was intercepted 11 times in the Bears' three losses and finished 24th in quarterback rating.
  
A downtrodden franchise rose from the ashes of a decimated city and won an NFL division title. Can the road eventually lead to a Super Bowl for the New Orleans Saints?
  
Seventeen months after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast region, the second-seeded Saints will host the third-seeded Philadelphia Eagles in a divisional playoff game matching the NFL's top-rated offences.
  
This is much more than a playoff game for New Orleans, which last hosted a postseason contest in 2000 - a 31-28 win over St.  Louis.
  
It was the Saints' lone playoff win in their 40-year history.
  
Last season, the Saints were displaced by the deadliest storm in American history and went 3-13 while the Superdome underwent a 185  million dollar renovation.

Source:
Aljazeera
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