Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the Chargers and Colts Sunday night matchup, I wanted to tackle the perceived notion that Peyton Manning struggles against the San Diego Chargers. That the Chargers, in some way, "have his number" and can almost be assured to pressure Manning into having another bad game against them this Sunday.
First, let's start by looking at Peyton's history for the facts. In 6 career regular-season games, Peyton and the Colts have beaten the Chargers 4 times. However, if you looking at Peyton's QB Rating against each team in the league, he has a lower QB rating against just one other team (Cleveland Browns) than he does against San Diego (74.8). That lends some credence to the argument that Peyton typically plays poorly against the Chargers.
Now, many people are going to want to argue the point that Peyton's Colts are 0-2 in the playoffs against the Chargers. I'm not completely disregarding that point, and actually Peyton played better in those games than he typically has in regular season games against the Chargers, but it's a little less valid here if only for the fact that we're discussing an upcoming regular season game. Should the Chargers and the Colts meet in the playoffs this year, you better believe I'll be dissecting those games.
That being said, let's make those earlier stats about 6 games more relevant and focus on just the two in which Peyton Manning was going head-to-head against Philip Rivers.....
November 4, 2007 Colts at Chargers
Philip Rivers - 13/24, 104 yards, 2 INT
Peyton Manning - 34/56, 328 yards, 2 TDs, 6 INT
The famed "Antonio Cromartie destroys Peyton Manning" game. Looking at how poor the Chargers offense was, specifically the passing offense, and it's amazing the Chargers won this game at all. I guess they needed every last one of those 6 interceptions, and the 45 yard punt return by Darren Sproles, and the kickoff return TD by Sproles.
Chargers 23, Colts 21
November 23, 2008 Colts at Chargers
Philip Rivers - 24/31, 288 yards, 2 TDs
Peyton Manning - 32/44, 255 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
A well-played game by both teams, in just about all aspects, and it ended with a 3 point Colts victory. The two teams met up again a month and a half later and played into overtime, in what only needs to be referred to as "The Darren Sproles Game". Rivers and Manning just about matched each other in that game as well.
Colts 23, Chargers 20
So, what can we deduce from this? Well, unless Peyton Manning implodes, we can probably assume that the QBs are going to go tit-for-tat and the game will fall onto the shoulders of the rest of the team. The defense, the running game, or (God forbid) the return game will need to step up and make a difference if the Chargers hope to leave the Colts with a win and hopes of winning the AFC West division title.