The Colts offense, as it has for the last decade or so, keys off Peyton Manning. The year the Colts got manning the Chargers had the number two pick and ended up with Ryan Leaf. But the Colts have been a little uneven this year, they started off the year 3-4 and looked to be headed into the sunset, but since then they have reeled off three victories and are poised near the top of the race for a wildcard. The Colts offense now rests on the right arm of Manning more than ever, their running game has been spotty at best. Currently their stats look like this:
Team Stats - Game Averages
|Off||20.9||313.4 (17th)||243.3 (6th)||70.1 (32nd)|
|Def||22.1||324.6 (17th)||181.0 (9th)||143.6 (25th)|
In some ways they are markedly similar to the Chargers with a great passing attack, but not gaining much on the ground. Manning has 17 TDs but 9 interceptions to go with them. Reggie Wayne is his favorite target; he has racked up 56 catches for nearly 800 yards this year. Surprisingly Marvin Harris' is fourth in terms of yards, ranking below both Dallas Clark at tight end and Anthony Gonzales. The concern for the Chargers has to be Dallas Clark; we have made average tight ends look like Pro Bowlers; what is a Pro Bowler going to look like? It will be interesting to see if Rivera thinks it more important to put S. Phillips on Clark in coverage or use him to try and get pressure on Manning. I would expect Jammer to be placed on Wayne; lets hope he doesn't cramp up at the end of this game.
The rushing attack has not gone well this year; Joseph Addai is averaging just 3.4 yards per carry. Addai did pick it up against Houston last week running 22 times for 105 yards; but it is hard to see this as the main threat. Dominic Rhodes has seen a number of carries this year; and has been averaging a slightly better 3.8 yards per carry. The run is clearly is the red headed step child of this offense though; to beat the Colts you have to throw off Manning and the passing attack.
The Colts offensive line has struggled with injuries; but is healthy now. They have played the same crew for the last five games and that coincides with a resurgence of the offense and fortunes of Indy. Despite throwing the ball so frequently there are just 11 sacks on Manning; he is not easy to bring down. In recent games Antonio Cromartie has helped bring Manning back to earth; in the last two meetings he collected four interceptions. But that was back when the Chargers were putting heat on the quarterback and Cromartie wasn't struggling with nagging injuries. If Manning has time, this is likely to be a long night for the Chargers defense. Another key is going to be turnovers; the Chargers have gone -4 on turnovers the past two weeks; that just can't happen against a team with Manning at quarterback.