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COLTS AT CHARGERS


11/23/08


The San Diego Chargers have their backs against the wall again. The last times they were in a similar position was in Week 3 at home against the Jets, when a loss could have put them down by 3 games to the Denver Broncos after just 3 games played in the season. San Diego won 48-29. And again in Week 6, at home against the Pats. The Chargers were at 2-3 and the Broncos were at 4-1, and a loss could have put them down by 3 games in the division again. San Diego won 30-10.

So here they are again, this time at 4-6 and the Broncos at 6-4, and a loss could put them down by 3 games. San Diego and Denver are both 2-1 in the division, and they play each other the last game of the season. The Chargers only shot at the playoffs is to try and get to, at worst, 1 game behind the Broncos, so they can at least have a chance to tie for the division championship in that final game.

The first tiebreaker is head to head record and the 2nd is divisional record. If both teams win out in their divisional games (against Oakland and Kansas City), and the Chargers can get to just 1 game behind Denver until they meet in that final game, a Charger win would give them the division based on the 2nd tiebreaker, a better divisional record (5-1 vs 4-2).

Denver is heavily favored to beat Oakland this week, so this is an absolute must win for the Chargers. If they go 3 down with just 5 to play, it would take a monumental collapse by Denver for San Diego to have any chance.

The Chargers have been up to the task the last two times they were in danger of dropping 3 games back. They get this one, and the next 2, at home where they have gone 3-1. Their only home loss was that first game of the season vs Carolina, where they lost on what could be considered a fluke play to end the game.

They are getting the Colts at a very bad time though. Manning looks like he is finally starting to click, and the Colts have won 3 games in a row to get right back in the thick of the wild card race at 6-4. Last week, Manning threw for 320 yds and 2 TDs against the Texans. Hes got a huge arsenal of weapons at his disposal with Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison, Anthony Gonzalez, Dallas Clark and also with Joseph Addai catching passes out of the backfield.. He will be facing a Charger defense that gives up an average of 267 passing yds per game, the worst in the NFL, and has given up 17 passing TDs with only 6 INTs all year. He should be playing in ideal conditions, and against a team that does not put a lot of pressure on opposing QBs. RB Joseph Addai has also stepped it up recently with over 150 total all-purpose yds last week against the Texans with both a rushing and receiving TD, and RB Dominic Rhodes chipped in with another 74 yds rushing and receiving.

On the flip side, Charger QB Philip Rivers will be facing one of the tougher pass defenses in the NFL. The Colts defense has given up just 2 passing TDs all year to go along with 10 INTs, and are giving up an average of just 189 yds per game through the air. Rivers had a tough outing last week at Pittsburgh, completing 15 of 26 for just 159 yds, 0 TDs and 2 big INTs. Of course the weather wasnt all that great, but Roethlisberger was able to throw for over 300 yds so it wasnt an impossible situation.

Rivers doesnt have nearly the offensive weapons that the Colts possess. WR Vincent Jackson and TE Antonio Gates have been his go to guys, with a combined 77 catches for 1125 yds and 10 TDs. WR Chris Chambers was huge in the early going with 5 TDs on just 19 receptions, before going down with a high ankle sprain that is still limiting him. Malcolm Floyd did step up big in his absence with 266 yds and 3 TDs. But in all likelihood, the Chargers chances this week may hinge on the performance of their running game and Ladanian Tomlinson. LT has been having an off year, but has shown glimpses of his old self lately, with a combined 240 yds rushing, 149 yds receiving and 2 TDs over the past 3 games. The Colts do not defend well against the run as they are giving up an average of 137 yds per game, and have given up a total of 15 rushing TDs on the year. Last week, the Texans torched them for 177 yds and 3 TDs on just 25 carries. The Colts may get starting Safety Bob Sanders back for this game though, which would be a big boost to both their running and pass defense.

The Chargers are just 1-3 in their last 4 games, and just 2-4 in their last 6. They barely squeaked by Kansas City at home 2 weeks ago, and would have lost if the Chiefs had been successful on a game-ending 2-pt conversion. The Chiefs could have tied it and sent the game to OT with the PAT, but chose to go for the win. The Colts have won 5 of their last 7, including the last 3 in a row, and appear to be peaking at the right time. Plus theyve got revenge for the Chargers knocking them out of the playoffs last year.

I just dont think that San Diego is playing well enough lately to be able to pull this one out against Manning and the Colts, at this time and in this particular situation. The line opened at Chargers 3 and was immediately bet down to 2.5. The Colts +3 would be a great way to go, and buying the pt might be the safer bet. But with them having a good chance of winning the game SU, I will make my wife extremely angry (shes a HUGE Charger fan!) and I will be fully prepared to sleep on the couch, but I will take Indianapolis +2.5 points.


 

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