Matchups

Indianapolis (7-1) at San Diego (4-4)

Indianapolis Colts Defense
15th Ranked against the Run
3rd Ranked against the Pass
Indianapolis Colts Offense
7th Ranked in Rushing
8th Ranked in Passing

San Diego Chargers Defense
22nd Ranked against the Run
24th Ranked against the Pass
San Diego Chargers Offense
14th Ranked in Rushing
22nd Ranked in Passing

San Diego has a hard tackling linebacker in Stephen Cooper, and the Chargers have had great success stopping the run this year. At least they did before running into (or rather being run into) by Vikings rookie running back Adrian Peterson. Before the Vikings game last week, San Diego had the 7th ranked defense against the run and now they’re ranked number 22. But one game doth not a run defense make, or in this case unmake. The Patriots had a similarly ranked run defense when they played the Colts last week and they were quite successful at stopping Indy running back Joseph Addai on several critical second half drives. Nevertheless Addai did have good rushing yardage on the day and good receiving yardage too, most of that coming on a swing pass from Manning that was designed to gain just enough yardage for a first down.

So it’s possible that the Chargers could disrupt the Colts ground game enough to force Manning into a pure passing attack especially if Indy should happen to fall behind in the score. And although that’s not horrible news it still leaves San Diego to deal with the problem of how to deal with Manning and the Colts 8th ranked passing offense. The obvious choice there is to control Manning by keeping the ball out of his hands. The Chargers need to call on running back LaDainian Tomlinson and give him lots of carries in order to chew up time on the clock. Manning does occasionally make poor decisions when under a time constraint, and without Colts premier wide receiver Marvin Harrison who remains out on injury this week Peyton will have to search for other targets.

But the Colts are feeling the Titans breath on the back of their necks, and they can’t forget the 2006 season when they went 9-0 but then lost four of their last seven games and a first round bye in the playoffs. Peyton will play with the urgency that this situation warrants and should dispatch the Chargers.

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