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MOtorboat
01-01-2009, 10:41 AM
Colts – Chargers Playoff Preview

Where: Saturday, Jan. 3, at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. The game will be broadcast at 6 p.m. MST, on NBC.

Last meeting: Sunday, Nov. 23, Indianapolis defeated San Diego 23-20 at Qualcomm Stadium in a featured NBC night game, very similar to the situation this Saturday.

All time series: San Diego leads the all-time series 14-9. The Chargers have won six of the last 10 meetings, dating back to 1993. They met last year in the playoffs, with San Diego prevailing in Indianapolis, 28-24.

Last week: Indianapolis trounced Tennessee 23-0, but starters played sparingly, or not at all, for both teams, in a game that mattered little. On the other hand, in a game that mattered enormously, the Chargers came out smoking, defeating Denver 52-21 on their home field.

Vegas Odds: Indianapolis is an 11-point favorite, with the over-under sitting at 50.

When Indianapolis has the ball

Running game

Key matchup: Joseph Addai vs. the San Diego blitz

The San Diego blitz, and the Indianapolis blocking scheme is the key to this game. If Indianapolis can correctly pick up the numerous blitz packages that the Chargers will send at the Indianapolis offense, then the Colts will have success both in the running game and in the passing game.

San Diego is allowing just over 100 yards per game on the ground, 11th best in the league. Indianapolis is just averaging 79.6 yards per game, 31st in the league. It would seem that San Diego might have the advantage here, as Joseph Addai has been battling injury problems all season, with two, two-game stints where he had to sit. With just one carry in the last three weeks, he should be ready to go against the Chargers, and was a full participant in practice this week.

Advantage: San Diego.

Passing game

Key matchup: The play-action vs. the San Diego blitz

The Colts offense is predicated on the play-action pass off the stretch run. Their efficiency in the running game, or at least keeping the Chargers with their head on a swivel, is the key to their game. If Peyton Manning can get the Charger linebackers to bite on the fake, he’ll have all day to throw, and when Peyton Manning has all day to throw, look out.

The Charger defense has not been as effective against the pass as they have in the past few years, finishing 31st against the pass, allowing nearly 250 yards per game. Manning is probably salivating at the numbers on paper, but the Colts passing attack has struggled against 3-4 defenses, because Manning doesn’t know which linebackers or safeties are blitzing on any given play. What he’s done to combat that is get better on his feet with his movement in the pocket. It’s worked the past few years, and the Colts have been more successful against 3-4 defenses.

Advantage: Indianapolis.

When San Diego has the ball

Running game

Key matchup: LaDainian Tomlinson vs. himself.

The Charger star has had his roughest season in the NFL this year, but seems to be back on track. The AFC Championship game last season, and his injury, really seemed to get in his head, as he rushed for over 100 yards just twice this season, and got into the endzone just 11 times, both numbers severely below his career averages. Still, he ran for 1,110 yards, and in the last two weeks, seemed to get things back on track with 186 yards and three touchdowns.

The Colts have been fairly week against the run, allowing 122.9 yards per game, and with LaDainian Tomlinson lining up on the opposite side of the ball, with the possibility of Darren Sproles filling in, that might not be a good sign for the Colts.

Advantage: San Diego.

Passing game

Key matchup: San Diego forcing Indianapolis into eight-men in the box.

If the Colts have to stack the box with eight men, Philip Rivers might have a field day. Bob Sanders is the key to this. He hasn’t practiced this week, but he should play on Saturday night. The Indianapolis star has been battling injuries all season, and didn’t play in Week 17. If he’s 100 percent healthy, the Colts defense is a much better unit, because he has the ability to help stop the run game and help in the passing game.

San Diego is averaging 241.1 yards per game through the air, and with the Colts struggling on defense this year, the Chargers are looking for a big game out of their wide outs, Vincent Jackson and Chris Chambers. Jackson had the first 1,000-yard season of his career, and averaged 18.6 yards per catch this season, adding another layer to this talented San Diego offense. Subsequently, Philip Rivers has a 105.5 rating this season, the 13th best season, as far as passer rating, in NFL history.

Advantage: San Diego

Special Teams

Key matchup: Darren Sproles vs. the Colts kick coverage.

Darren Sproles is one of the best returnmen in the league, and he has the ability to break one for a touchdown on just about every return. He was third in the league in total kick return yardage, and 12th in punt return yardage, averaging 11.3 every punt return.

The Colts will need to keep him bottled up, because big plays on Special Teams by the Chargers will really hurt the Colts, because they most likely can’t return the momentum swing.

Advantage: San Diego.

Analysis

This has all the makings of a shoot out. Two high-powered passing games, with complimentary running games that feature two of the best running backs in the game. The 28-24 thrilling victory for the Chargers last year in the divisional round might be a good place to look to see how this game might go.

The Chargers have found themselves in shootouts for much of the season, as they are giving up 21.7 points per game. Indianapolis is slightly better at 18.6 points per game, but they have also won their last 9 games, after a 3-4 start to the season.

If both offenses can move the ball, as they should be able to, this will be a high-scoring affair.

I have San Diego favored in four of the five aspects of the game above, but the intangible is Peyton Manning. He is the ultimate leader in the NFL, and if he has a big day, he’ll find a way to win this game for the Colts, as he’s done in their nine-game winning streak to end the season.

Prediction: Indianapolis 31, San Diego 30 (Because Norv elects to go for two and the win…poetic justice.)

BroncoAV06
01-01-2009, 04:22 PM
Well done.

As for LT his groin looks like it might limit him so on top of Sproles being a difference maker on special teams he is going to have to play a role in the back field as well which coud provide the Chargers another spark.

I was leanig towards the INdy myself as they have just been putting up the W's with Manning sneaking his name into the MVP race. If Dallas Clark has a big game and they can get enough out of Addai I like the Colts in a close but high scoring game as well.

Bozo Jr.
01-01-2009, 04:43 PM
I hope Manning and Co. really take it to 'em! Seeing Rivers and Tomlinson cry is one of my favorite hobbies! :laugh:

Gamechanger
01-01-2009, 06:04 PM
good assesment, I like the score too :salute:

NorthernLights
01-01-2009, 06:42 PM
Actually, Indy is a 1 point favorite, not 11, but what's 10 points around friends.

I cannot objectively preview this game, so I won't even try. Saturday can't get here fast enough.

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