When the Colts moved in 1984, I used to like to say Abe Lincoln was never in Indianapolis.
The point was that Bob Irsay was fooling all the fans all the time into thinking he was eventually going to build a winner.
Well, the fans are too sophisticated for that now even in Indianapolis. Guess which game attracted the lowest announced crowd in the opening game of the season Sunday? It was the the Dolphins-Colts at the Hoosier Dome. It attracted only 51,858. In Los Angeles, Al Davis didn't announce his crowd at the Los Angeles Coliseum, and it was listed at 50,000 estimated.
For an actual ticket count, though, the Colts were at the bottom. It was even less than the crowd of 52,613 that attended the home opener in the team's last year in Baltimore in 1983, $H although that figure was inflated because so many fans came to boo John Elway.
The disappointing crowd for a team coming off a 9-7 year against a divisional foe shows the Indianapolis fans have figured out the team is on a treadmill until it hires a general manager, and it's not likely to do that as long as Irsay's son, Jimmy, holds that job. The team rode the fifth-place schedule to a winning record last year, but figures to revert to its losing ways -- even though the Colts are likely to beat the Bengals today -- against a tougher schedule this year.
Irsay can't fool those Indy fans any longer.
Phoenix at Washington (-10) -- Do you think Gary Clark will be fired up for this game?
N * Take Washington * Final score: Redskins 24, Cardinals 10.
Kansas City at Houston (2 1/2 ) -- Does Buddy Ryan really have a bounty on Joe Montana?
* Take Houston * Final score: Oilers 23, Chiefs 14.
New Orleans (-3 1/2 ) at Atlanta -- Jerry Glanville may not last through September.
Philadelphia at Green Bay (-3 1/2 ) -- I don't think Reggie White and Norman Braman are going to have breakfast together before the game.
* Take Philadelphia with the points. * Final score: Packers 21, Eagles 20.
Chicago at Minnesota (-7) -- What's Mike Ditka going to wear on NBC today?
* Take Chicago with the points * Final score: Vikings 24, Bears 23.
Indianapolis (-2) at Cincinnati -- The Colts would rather play David Shula's team than his father's team.
* Take Indianapolis * Final score: Colts 27, Bengals 14.
Tampa Bay at New York Giants (-10) -- Craig Erickson had a better supporting cast in college at Miami.
* Take the Giants * Final score: Giants 31, Bucs 17.
Buffalo at Dallas (-5) -- It won't be 52-17 this time.
New York Jets at Miami (-9) -- It won't be long before the tabloids are after Bruce Coslet.
* Take Miami * Final score: Dolphins 31, Jets 17.
San Diego at Denver (-3) -- The Broncos haven't missed Dan Reeves yet.
* Take Denver * Final score: Broncos 21, Chargers 14.
Pittsburgh (-3) at Los Angeles Rams -- Neil O'Donnell hopes to start living up to his big, new contract today.
* Take Pittsburgh * Final score: Steelers 28, Rams 7.
Los Angeles Raiders (-3) at Seattle -- Jeff Hostetler doesn't miss the Giants.
* Take the Raiders * Final score: Raiders 21, Seahawks 14.
San Francisco (-6 1/2 ) at Cleveland -- The 49ers aren't missing Joe Montana.
* Take San Francisco * Final score: 49ers 30, Browns 14.
Best bets: Saints, Steelers, 49ers and Lions.
Last week's record: 13-1. Against the spread: 10-4. Best bets: 2-2.