On Sunday night, when Peyton Manning returns to Indianapolis for the first time as the opponent, the Colts defense finally will be allowed to hit him. Still, Robert Mathis and others have made it clear all week that they are not making this game personal.
But when the Denver Broncos (6-0) and Colts (4-2) meet in the NFL's most anticipated homecoming since Brett Favre showed up in Green Bay with the Vikings, Mathis plans to get down to the business of putting Manning on the ground.
It won't be easy, and with Manning it never is.
In 230 career games, Manning has been sacked just 257 times, an average of 17.9 per season.
This year, Manning leads the league with 22 TD passes, a 128.8 passer rating, an offense that is on pace to shatter the NFL's single-season scoring record. He's been sacked just five times despite playing behind an offensive line that includes a backup left tackle, a first-year center and a right tackle who finished last week's 35-19 victory at right guard.
The biggest challenge this week might be avoiding Mathis, a teammate of Manning's for nine seasons.
Mathis has won a Super Bowl, two AFC titles, been to five consecutive Pro Bowls, topped 100 career sacks and is now chasing the Colts' franchise record, held by his old pal Dwight Freeney. At age 32, he shares the NFL lead with 9½ sacks.
"If this was a scenario where all I had to do maybe was come back and wave and smile and kiss a few babies and sign a few autographs, it'd be different," Manning said. "But somehow I've got to figure out a way to stay away from Mathis and try to complete a few passes on (Vontae) Davis and (Antoine) Bethea, and that's going to be tough because I think it's a tough defense."
Manning's ex-teammates know what to expect from their former quarterback.
"It's going to be a chess match, of course. He looks for his mismatches just like any other quarterback does," Bethea said. "It's going to be tough. He might get us a few times, we might get him a few times, but for the most part, like I continue to say, we got to go out there and play ball. When we get chances to make plays, we got to make our plays."
Vikings: Running back Adrian Peterson has been listed as probable for Monday's night game against the New York Giants after missing some practice time this week because of tightness in his hamstring.
Left tackle Matt Kalil missed practice for the second straight day because of tightness in his back and was listed as questionable, but coach Leslie Frazier said he expects Kalil to be able to play.
Patriots: Cornerback Aqib Talib (hip) will not travel with the team to New York and will not play in Sunday's matchup with the Jets, a league source confirmed to ESPNBoston.com.
The Patriots are already down their top two defensive players, as nose tackle Vince Wilfork and linebacker Jerod Mayo have both been placed on season-ending injured reserve.