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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
December 14, 2005
Season Ticket
Saturday Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
KC at NYG CAR at NO* SD at IND CLE at OAK* Mon 9 PM
  NYJ at MIA SF at JAC* Updated* Times ET

Prediction: San Diego 20, Indianapolis 30

This is one of the two remaining games that cast a shadow of doubt on the Colts quest to finally shut up the boys from the 1972 Dolphins. The Chargers come off a surprising loss to the visiting Dolphins last week while the Colts just continue to roll like they are on cruise control in just third gear. The Chargers are 4-2 on the road and a loss here could spell an end to their playoff hopes.

San Diego Chargers (8-5)
1 24-28 DAL 10 Open Bye
2 17-20 @DEN 11 48-10 BUF
3 45-23 NYG 12 23-17 @WAS
4 41-17 @NE 13 34-10 OAK
5 22-24 PIT 14 21-23 MIA
6 27-14 @OAK 15 Dec 18 @IND
7 17-20 @PHI 16 Dec 24 @KCC
8 28-20 KCC 17 Dec 31 DEN
9 31-26 @NYJ . MON SAT
SDC at IND Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 0 0 240,1
RB L. Tomlinson 80,1 30 0
TE Antonio Gates 0 60,1 0
WR Keenan McCardell 0 50 0
WR Eric Parker 0 60 0
WR Reche Caldwell 0 20 0
PK Nate Kaeding 2 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Chargers may have been caught trying to rest up for their brutal three game stretch to end the season and the loss to the Dolphins likely removes any chance of catching the Broncos now. The five game winning streak ended one week shorter than most assumed it would. With a game the following week against the Chiefs - though in Kansas City - there is still a chance for a wildcard even with a loss here.

Quarterback: Drew Brees comes off one of his best games of the year when he threw for 279 yards and three scores against the Dolphins but that came after 52 pass attempts and a season high 35 completions - seven more than any other game. Brees is good for at least one score in every game and has turned in some big games but in their two road trips against good defenses this year - Washington and Denver - Brees had no touchdown passes.

Running Backs: LaDainian Tomlinson only gained 75 yards on 21 carries last week though he has been stellar in most games this year. Tomlinson has a strange pattern to scoring. He had none in the last two home games against weaker opponents and only five at home this season. But he has 11 touchdowns on the road and all but one of his 100 yard efforts came in an away game.

Wide Receivers: Keenan McCardell had 58 yards and a score last week but he has been over 80 yards in only two games this season. Eric Parker had been on a four game streak of good yardage and scores but that ended when he only had 37 yards last week. The passing attack is not about the wideouts here even in the best of games.

Tight Ends: When all else fails, throw to Gates. Last week against the Dolphins, Antonio Gates caught a season high 13 passes for 123 yards and one score which gives him nine touchdowns on the year - two more than any other tight end. He is only three yards away from topping 1000 yards this season.

Match Against the Defense: The Colts have not allowed a 100 yard rusher yet this season and only two runners have managed to rush in a score against them in Indianapolis this year. Look for Tomlinson to challenge that yardage mark and likely to score once - but only once.

Brees should manage to have a decent game here though a really big one would require ample trash time to happen - a possibility though slight. The Colts have been allowing several tight ends to score so Gates and his double digit throws should be a lock for a decent game and probable score. The Colts have been dominating though and if they can hold Gates to just moderate numbers, there is no chance for the Chargers to pull off a win.

Indianapolis Colts (13-0)
1 24-7 @BAL 10 31-17 HOU
2 10-3 JAC 11 45-37 @CIN
3 13-6 CLE 12 26-7 PIT
4 31-10 @TEN 13 35-3 TEN
5 28-3 @SFO 14 26-18 @JAC
6 45-28 STL 15 Dec 18 SDC
7 38-20 @HOU 16 Dec 24 @SEA
8 Open Bye 17 Jan 1 ARI
9 40-21 @NE . MON SAT
IND vs SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Peyton Manning 0 0 290,2
RB Edgerrin James 90,1 30 0
TE Dallas Clark 0 20 0
WR Marvin Harrison 0 100,1 0
WR Reggie Wayne 0 70,1 0
WR Brandon Stokley 0 30 0
PK Mike Vanderjagt 3 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: Could be history in the making here. The Colts are three games away from a perfect season and have been dominating at home. The reports are that all starters will be playing all game and that should spell #14 for a team that is hitting on all cylinders and adding some alcohol to the tank when needed.

Quarterback: Peyton Manning has now scored multiple touchdowns in each of the last eight games though his biggest yardage games have all been on the road. His 27 touchdowns now tie him with Carson Palmer for tops in the NFL and he is second only to Tom Brady in passing yards.

Running Backs: Edgerrin James leads the NFL with 334 carries - 31 more than any other runner (Alexander) and he trails Alexander by only 56 yards for the NFL lead in rushing. His 1743 total yards trails only Tiki Barber by six yards. Though there is a concern that he could be used too heavily and needs a rest, he has not had less than 28 carries in any of the last three games.

Wide Receivers: Marvin Harrison now has 12 touchdowns - two more than any other receiver in the NFL and he is only eight yards away from another 1000 yard season. Reggie Wayne only has five scores but he is only 57 yards short of 1000 as well. Man - all this and a good defense too.

Tight Ends: The Colts have not used tight ends as much this year but Dallas Clark and Brian Fletcher both have three scores this year with Fletcher having three in the last four games.

Match Against the Defense: What's not to like about this offense? You're going to start your Colts regardless, but...

James faces a defense that has not allowed any runner to top 87 yards this season and that has allowed only seven rushing scores. Look for James to end up close to the 100 yard mark but to fall short since the Chargers can stop the run better than most. He could score once but likely not more than that.

Manning is beyond mere match-ups but the Chargers have allowed almost every opponent to score through the air and the better teams have notched two scores though never three since opening week. There has been only one wideout with a 100 yard game against the Chargers and that was from Kennison - same flanker spot as Harrison.