The Colts minus Manning

Peyton Manning means more to the Colts than any other QB means to his team. Andrew Mills/The Star-Ledger/US Presswire

In sports, "chemistry" is always referenced in such flowery tones. If teammates have good chemistry, they will cheer each other on, help each other up and toss each other a cold one as a postgame back-patting session breaks out. Things are clicking, and it manifests itself on the field. But this goes directly against the lab versions of chemistry, littered with explosions, leaks, danger warnings; don't inhale.

Playing with Peyton Manning means the good kind. The 2010 Colts were decimated by injuries, but with Manning there, it still clicked. Maybe not in the way the Colts were used to clicking -- but you had to know better to think things weren't pretty good. Without context, the numbers show a QB with 4,700 yards passing and the appearance of a deep receiving corps. Jacob Tamme, Pierre Garcon, Blair White, Austin Collie and Donald Brown all caught career-high totals in passes. You can just hear the play-by-play voice pointing out Manning is "Developing chemistry with new receivers!" But this has been the Colts in a nutshell: Chemistry is easy because anything combines with this element. And the element is Manning.

Currently nursing an ailing neck, Manning may well start in Week 1. From then on, he may play every game for the next five years. But, if for some reason he didn't, this is what it might look like. With the help of AccuScore, here's a projection of the 2011 Colts with Manning, Kerry Collins or Curtis Painter running the show: