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2009 NFL PLAYOFFS

WILDCARD GAME

COLTS VS CHARGERS

2* Colts pk over Chargers - This one figures to be one of the more entertaining games of the weekend. What's not to like. A Saturday Night, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers......fire way! Once again with the number in this one at pk, we're just being asked to pick a straight up winner here. Just as in the Falcons/Cards game, we'll take a look at this game by breaking it down based on the last 8 meaningful games. In the Chargers case, that would be each of the last 8 while in the case of the Colts, we will throw out the last game against the Titans which meant nothing for either team.

One thing you need to be careful of this time of year is the media. They'll grab onto a team and have you believing they are the 2nd coming of Lombardi's Packers when in fact, they are not even close. The biggest offenders are the networks, and, well, why not as it's their job to hype these games, to create interest, to get you to watch. Listening to any of these commentators, or even the guys on shows like Inside the NFL, you'd come away thinking the San Diego Chargers are the hottest team in football bar none. But let's take a step back and take a look at the big picture.

If the Chargers are hot, then the Colts are scorching hot. Sure the Chargers have won 4 straight down the stretch. Good for them. The Colts on the other hand, have won 9 straight. Looking at the last 8 meaningful games for both, the Chargers are 5-3 having lost 3 straight before winning the final 4 while the Colts are a perfect 8-0. What makes it even more suspect are the teams the Chargers beat during this 4-0 run. They beat the Raiders and Chiefs, two of the worst in the NFL. They beat a Tampa Bay team that simply imploded down the stretch and then they beat a Denver team that quite frankly, I put in the same category as the Raiders and Chiefs. They were never good at any point this year. The Chargers beating them to clinch the play spot is far from an accomplishment.

When we dig a little deeper, and take a step back and look at the entire season, the Chargers are still just a .500 football team at 8-8 that hasn't won a big game all year going up against a hot, 12-4 team. It's a crime that the Colts have to travel and play the Chargers on the road.A 12-4 team traveling to play an 8-8 team? There's something drastically wrong with that. Lastly, when we take a look at how these two teams did against the toughest competition they faced this year, other playoff teams, we see the Colts at 5-1 while the Chargers sit at 0-5. 0-5 against other playoff teams, 8-8 overall, hardly a sparkling resume for the playoffs.

Looking at the last 8 meaningful games we see the Colts weigh in with a yards per point number of 13.5 on offense and a defensive number of 19 while the Colts weigh in with a 13 on offense and a 17.7 on defense. Not bad numbers at all for either team here, with the Colts holding a slight edge defensively and the teams being relatively even offensively.

We aren't suggesting the Chargers are a bad team. They lost a few games this year on the last play of the game and almost went into Pittsburgh and knocked off the Steelers. These two teams met earlier in the year in San Diego in a game that came down to the wire in which the Colts won by a field goal. Statistically, the game was even.

Our feeling here is that the Colts have been the more consistent team from start to finish as well as down the stretch over the 2nd half of the season. Defensively they have only allowed 6 TD passes all year, an NFL record and have a much better pass rush than the Chargers who have had just 3 sacks their last 3 games. Give Manning time to throw and it could be a long night. Rivers is hot, Manning is hotter. You'd have to give the Colts not only the QB edge but the coaching edge as well. The Colts have done everything across the board a little better than the Chargers (including turnover margin), all year long which should be enough to get them a W here and advance.

2* Colts pk over Chargers

 

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