Indianapolis Colts vs. San Diego Chargers: Why Both Teams Are in Playoff Mode

Kyle Vassalo@VassaloBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 27, 2010

SAN DIEGO - NOVEMBER 11:  Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers meets Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts during the Chargers 23-21 win over the Colts in the NFL game on November 11, 2007 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

San Diego Chargers at Indianapolis Colts

Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010, 8:30 p.m. EST

Line: Indianapolis -3



The Chargers and Colts find themselves in an unfamiliar position at this time of year. Both teams are on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. While panic mode may not be set in for either team, both teams know exactly what is at stake in this game.

The 5-5 Chargers can’t afford to slip to 5-6, risking being two games back from first place. The Colts are tied for first, but the Jaguars have the tie-breaker over them. They will look to persevere through the home stretch of the season and hope the Jaguars fall by the wayside.


Keys to the Game

  • Peyton Manning is seeing the ill-effects of having a slew of scrub receivers and slash players make up his offense. The inability for his targets to make easy catches and make big plays has cost them two of the last four games. Anyone in a Manning offense can acquire numbers, but Manning can’t consistently win by himself. Unless Jacob Tamme and Blair White can have a Dallas Clark/Austin Collie impact, the Colts pass game isn’t going to be enough to compensate for their terrible run game.
  • This is going to be a shootout. Philip Rivers leads the No. 1 passing offense in the league. Much like Manning, Rivers has had to make the most out of new faces on offense. The Chargers have been banged up this season, but Rivers manages to get it done regardless of who is on the field. Both quarterbacks' success adds to the significance their role has on their respective teams.
  • The Chargers apply pressure from everywhere. Shaun Phillips has become Shawne Merriman reincarnated, and with Antonio Garay and Kevin Burnett pitching in, the Chargers can bring down opposing quarterbacks in a number of different packages. It is unclear how they will handle putting pressure on Manning. It is widely believed that when you pressure Manning, it gives him an advantage. If Manning recognizes the blitz, even his lackluster targets can make plays.
  • Mike Tolbert is coming off a huge game against Denver, who has a run defense that resembles the Colts run defense. If the Colts don’t do anything to sure up their run defense, Manning will be in an even more difficult position. When the Colts allow over 30 points, as they have done twice this year, Manning is asked to do too much. The defense needs to step up and not allow the Chargers to run the ball at will.


Key Matchup

Colts Defensive Line vs. Chargers Offensive Line

  • If the Colts provide any resistance on Sunday, it will be because their defensive line took it upon themselves to make something happen. Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis have got to have a solid showing. Marcus McNeill and Jeromey Clary have to allow Philip Rivers to go through his progressions. The Chargers grossly outmatch the Colts defense and should have no problems as long as the battle is won at the line of scrimmage.



Peyton Manning is in playoff mode. It’s prime time, he’s facing the Chargers and he’s only giving up three points at home. The Chargers have every reason to win this game, but like the Patriots, the Colts are tough to pick against even when everything points the other way. I’m taking the Colts.

Free NFL Pick: Indianapolis -3