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First and 10

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Dec 15, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/columns/story?columnist=clayton_john&page=/firstandten/week15" target="_blank">ESPN</a>

    By John Clayton

    Colts coach Tony Dungy assembled his players following their victory over the Jaguars and mapped out the plan for the next week.

    After accomplishing all that the Colts could during the regular season -- wrapping up the AFC South title and home-field advantage through the playoffs -- Dungy said he will treat Sunday's game against the Chargers like any other game. The players were happy. As much as they would like a rest before the playoffs, some are intrigued by the idea of having the first undefeated season since the 1972 Miami Dolphins.

    Folks are making a little too much of the debate, making it sound as though this is some major controversy. Football is a physical sport and injuries happen. Dungy knows being healthy for the playoffs is more important than the undefeated season. The coach has a good handle on the situation. If players are at risk of injury, they will be rested.

    He's not going to let Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James, Marvin Harrison and other key players get hurt so they can't play in the first playoff game. But with three games to go, the Colts have a month before that game. He's knows he can't just sit players down for a month. He has to keep the performance of the team sharp so he'll play his starters this week and then use the final two games to do some of the resting.

    All of this is bad news for the Chargers. The Colts are essentially two touchdowns better than any team in the league. They've trailed only twice this season -- 3-0 to the Jaguars in Week 2 and 17-0 in a Monday night game in which they came back to blow out the Rams. They are one of the greatest front-runners this league has ever seen.

    Manning has had to drop back for only 35 passes when his team has been behind. He's dropped back only 99 times when the Colts were tied. Manning is so good at getting early scores, and he's even more efficient when he's working with a lead.

    Manning has been in complete control and the Colts' offense is like clockwork. The Colts play 10 possession games. With those 10 possessions, they produce roughly four touchdown drives and two field goal drives. Manning is particularly good out of the gate. In 13 games, he's led the Colts to eight touchdown drives on their first possession. He's opened the second half with seven touchdown drives and three field goals.

    All of this is bad news for the Chargers, who need a victory over the Colts to stay in the playoff race. Last week's loss to the Dolphins seriously jeopardized their playoff hopes. Although the Chargers have the type of offense to challenge the Colts in a shoot-out, they face another problem. The Chargers' 3-4 defense poses no particular problem for the Colts. Six of their wins are against 3-4 teams (Browns, 49ers, Patriots, Steelers, Texans twice) and they are whipping these teams by an average of 16 points that is similar to their overall average margin of victory, 16.4 points.

    Knowing that, the key for the Chargers is possessing the ball. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron calls a great game for Drew Brees and their offense. Believe it or not, the Chargers have had one more touchdown drive than the Colts (45 to 44). The Colts average 30.2 points a game. The Chargers average 29.1.

    The Chargers know they are fighting for a wild-card berth and they are doing it with little margin of error. They would lose a tiebreaker to the Steelers because they lost to them in Week 5. They know they can't fall behind the Chiefs, because the Chiefs close the season with two home games, one against San Diego.

    This is a must-win for the Chargers and they are going against a team that doesn't show any sign of being stopped. And Dungy wants them to play to win. That's bad news for the Chargers.

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