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Divisional Playoffs: Chargers vs. Colts

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Jan 8, 2008.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    By Curtis Egan
    <em>BoltTalk Staff Writer</em>

    <strong>Back to business</strong>

    <img src="http://i2.chargers.com/assets/206/37017_600w600h.jpg" alt="The Bolts' defense intercepted Peyton Manning six times Sunday night, held the Colts to just 75 rushing yards and made all the big plays when they needed to.(MikeNowak/Chargers.com)" align="right" height="220" width="228" /> The Chargers have come off of their first playoff victory in 13 years. They played a physical game in which they were kept off of the scoreboard in the first half. You would expect that the players would be celebrating and enjoying their accomplishment.

    You would be wrong.

    The interviewers that met the Charger players after the game all commented on how the Chargers have already put the game behind them and have begun to focus on their next challenge, a rested and healthy Indianapolis Colts.

    Chargers star Running Back, LaDainian Tomlinson said in the post game interview last night:
    <blockquote><em>"It didn't come easy, but I tell you, I'm just happy to get that first one," Tomlinson said.

    "It's a relief, but at the same time, it's not like we're saying, 'OK, we won a playoff game, so let's get ready to lose,' you know what I mean? I'm already thinking about next week and how tough of a game we're going to have going to Indianapolis, facing the champs."</em></blockquote>
    The Chargers also won the game in an unconventional method. They did not do it on the ground, as the Titans defense held Tomlinson to 42 yards on 21 carries. Not LT like numbers at all. Nor did they lean on their excellent Tight End, Antonio Gates. Gates was forced out of the game with what is reported as a severe toe sprain. No the Titans played to stop the run, daring Chargers Quarter Back Philip Rivers to beat them.

    That is exactly what he did. Rivers was able in the second half to step up into the pocket and throw down field hitting his wide receivers to keep the ball moving and Vince young on the sidelines.

    Wide Outs Chris Chambers and Vincent Jackson had big games, hauling in Rivers' passes. Between the three there were 6 passing plays over 20 yards, including a 25 yard, third quarter touch down to Vincent Jackson to put the Chargers on the board. This proved to be only the third time in Chargers team history in which two players surpassed the 100 yard receiving mark. The last time it was done, it was In their 41-38 overtime win against Miami on January. 2, 1982, Kellen Winslow had 166 yards, Charlie Joiner 108 and Wes Chandler 106. In a wild-card win over Pittsburgh on Jan. 9, 1983, Chandler had 124 and Winslow 102

    Now the Chargers have to go to Indianapolis to meet a very dangerous team that has had a week off to rest up. They are a high powered offensive team with a very strong defensive unit. They can put numbers on the scoreboard in a hurry, boasting this seasons 3rd scoring offense. Peyton manning is arguably the best quarter back in the league and with Wide Receivers, Marvin Harrison likely to play, and rookie Anthony Gonzales developing into a scoring threat he should have options to go to. For the first time in nearly a month they are a healthy unit, with all five starters who were inactive in their last game (against the Titans) are likely to play.

    Harrison practiced Wednesday and worked on his own during Thursday's light workout. Thursday Colts Head Coach, Tony Dungy stated that he believes the eight-time Pro Bowler will be in uniform for the playoffs regardless of the light workout.

    Getting the pieces back alone will not make the Colts better. These pieces have to work together well, and this could be a challenge as some of the players have missed a quarter of the season. Also history has not been kind of late to teams the have had their bye in the playoffs. The Colts will have to get momentum early, and avoid the turnovers. San Diego's defense topped the league in the turnover ratio. This is something the Colts are sure to be aware of and may try to be more conservative on offense to begin the game to see what San Diego Defense will gives them.

    <strong><em>Chargers on Offense, Colts on Defense:</em></strong>
    Quarterback Philip Rivers played an excellent second half against the Titans stout defensive unit. He was 19 of 30 for 292 yards 1 touchdown and 1 interception. That ranked him 2nd amongst the 8 quarter backs that played in the Wildcard weekend, his passer rating was 92.6.

    However this week it does not get any easier for him, as stated before the Colts have a very good defensive unit, finishing the regular season as the 3rd over all in the league. They were second against the pass but had a weakness against the run, coming in at 15th overall.

    Look for the Chargers to have confidence coming off of their win, and approach this with a business first outlook. They will try to establish the running game with Tomlinson and backup Michael Turner. They will use the run to set up the pass. If the Colts commit 8 or 9 players to the line of scrimmage to stuff the run, look for the Chargers to hit their wide outs to keep the chains moving.

    Even if star Tight End Antonio Gates, can't play due to a sprained toe. The addition of WR Chambers to the offense, and the development of young WR Jackson can kept the passing attack working, as evident against the Titans.

    The Chargers can not start slow however. If they spot the Colts the first half the way they did against the Titans, they will be in for a long, frustrating day.

    Look for the Colts defensively to try and rattle Rivers, to make him throw an errant pass and to keep him frustrated. They have the speed and strength on the defensive line to do this. Their secondary players are good enough to provide the time for their big bodied players up front to get the coverage sack. However the Colts corners have been susceptible to speed routs and double moves this season. Look for the Colts to put a linebacker on Tomlinson and shadow him to prevent him from getting into the passing game.

    <strong><em>Chargers on Defense, Colts on Offense: </em></strong>
    No other way to put it. The Chargers will have to put pressure on Manning and not let up. They will not be able to allow the Colts to stop the rush at the pocket and give Manning an area to step up into to make the pass.

    The Chargers will have to have a balanced game from their four outstanding linebackers who will be tasked with adding to the pass rush while also defending against the run. The Chargers bend don't break mentality will be tested, but in their last match up, the Chargers came away with 6 interceptions of Manning.

    The Chargers will have to pin their ears back, and go after the Colts signal caller like rabid wolves that have not eaten in a week. They will also have to bump the receivers at the line of scrimmage and put them off of their timing patterns.

    The Colts live off of the timing pass, relying on their speedy receivers to get to the point of the ball. They will use their running attack to keep the Chargers honest, forcing them to keep their speedy linebackers from blitzing in order to defend the run.

    If the Colts can establish a running game, look for that to lead to them trying some long downfield passes. Manning may even decide to test Chargers Corner Back, Antonio Cromartie who picked him off in the last game.

    Another thing to keep in mind in regards to this game. These are some of the leagues top scoring teams. The Chargers rank 5th in scoring, while the Colts rank 3rd. This game will see the scoreboard light up, that is assured.

    <strong><em>
    The monkey and the wrench:</em></strong>
    The Chargers have one key area where they are much better than the Colts. That would be Special Teams. In the last meeting the Charger burned the Colts kickoff and punt units for two scores. The Colts are not very good on special teams this season. However, this is the playoffs and the Colts have had an extra week to work on their coverage.

    If the Chargers are able to add a special teams score, you could be looking at a huge upset in Indy.

    Many of the media's talking heads do not give the Chargers a chance in this match up. If the Colts make the mistake of approaching the game with that mentality, they could be in for a rude awakening.

    <strong><em>Concudan's Prognostication: </em></strong>
    This game is not an easy one to pick. I draw a bit of comfort from the wins the Chargers have enjoyed of late over the Colts. The Chargers match up well against Indy, and have a better special teams unit.

    Chargers 27, Colts 24.

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