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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
4:30 P.M. EST
8 P.M. EST
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4:30 P.M. EST

Prediction: SD 17, IND 31

The Chargers come into this game with only a 4-4 road record but they beat the Colts in week 10 in San Diego in a close game of 23-21. The Colts rallied from a 23-7 deficit at halftime but that was the game when Peyton Manning threw a career high six interceptions in just the first half. And it ended with Adam Vinatieri missing a 29-yard field goal with just 1:31 remaining in the game. This is a chance for the Colts to make amends for their only road loss of the year.

San Diego Chargers (11-5)
Homefield: Qualcomm Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 CHI 14-3 -5.5 42.5
2 @NE 14-38 +3 47
3 @GB 24-31 -5 43
4 KC 16-30 -13 38.5
5 @DEN 41-3 -1 43
6 OAK 28-14 -9.5 44
7 BYE - - -
8 HOU 35-10 -11 45
9 @MIN 17-35 -7 41
10 IND 23-21 +3.5 49
11 @JAC 17-24 +3 41
12 BAL 32-14 -9.5 38.5
13 @KC 24-10 -3.5 43
14 @TEN 23-17 -1 41
15 DET 51-14 -10.5 45.5
16 DEN 23-3 -8.5 47
17 @OAK 30-17 -8 43
P1 TEN 17-6 -9 40.5
P2 @IND   +8.5 46.5
SDC at IND Rush Catch Pass
QB Philip Rivers     240,2
RB LaDainian Tomlinson 60 50,1  
TE Brandon Manumaleuna   30  
WR Vincent Jackson   50  
WR Craig Davis   30  
WR Chris Chambers   60,1  
PK Nate Kaeding 1 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Chargers held off the Titans as expected but that was hardly as impressive showing by the offense in a home game against the arguably weakest team in the AFC playoffs. What's even worse is that Antonio Gates was injured and likely won't be ready this week. The addition of Chris Chambers proved to be a prudent move as the lead receiver but this week is considered to be a mismatch even with the Chargers already having beaten the Colts this year.

Quarterback: Philip Rivers comes off his best game in six weeks when he passed for 292 yards and one score against the Titans. He only had one interception and that was his only in the last four games. He hasn't been making many mistakes but until last week he hadn't much been above 200 passing yards for the past month.

Rivers completed only 13 of 24 for 104 yards and one interception against the Colts in week ten.

Running Backs: After a four game spree during fantasy playoffs, LaDainian Tomlinson only ran for 56 yards on 16 carries against the Raiders and then only gained 42 yards on 21 carries against the Titans - and almost all of that came in the second half. He did score one rushing touchdown last week but only had three catches for 19 yards. He has not had a big role as a receiver for six weeks now but that could change with Gates likely out.

Tomlinson ran for 76 yards on 21 carries and scored once against the Colts this year. He added four catches for 21 yards.

Wide Receivers: Chris Chambers was the saving grace last week when the Chargers struggled against the Titans. He caught six passes for 121 yards for his best game of the year and that will need to continue with Gates out. Chambers became the clear go-to guy last week. He was joined by Vincent Jackson who also had a season best five catches for 114 yards and the lone passing score. Jackson had been staying safely under 50 yards in most games until last week.

Against the Colts in week ten, Chambers only had two catches for 17 yards while Jackson accounted for only two catches for 28 yards. The Chargers were trying to ride a lead and did not throw that much in the previous meeting (nor that well for that matter).

Tight Ends: Antonio Gates suffered a dislocated toe against the Titans and is questionable to play this week. There are reports that his toe will all but certainly prevent him from playing and he never returned to the field last week after suffering the injury. Gates only had three catches for 26 yards in the previous meeting with the Colts. He will be replaced by Brandon Manumaleuna if he is unable to play.

Match Against the Defense: The last meeting with the Colts was surreal since Manning threw six interceptions in just the first half before settling down. The Chargers won the game but opened with a kickoff return for a score by Darren Sproles who also returned a punt for a touchdown. Otherwise, the Chargers did very little offensively with only one touchdown despite intercepting Manning six times. The Colts only allowed two rushing scores to visitors this year and the run defense has been stellar. Look for another mediocre performance by Tomlinson who has to become more involved as a runner.

The loss of Gates really places a damper on this offense. That presses Rivers into just using Jackson and Chambers and the Colts corners can handle two wideouts - they already shut them down earlier this year. Look for one passing score here by Rivers with a chance for two but the yardage should be lower. There is some revenge to extract here and the Colts are rested and prepared. The Chargers are just short the premier tight end in the business.

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Indianapolis Colts (13-3)
Homefield: RCA Dome
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 NO 41-10 -6 51.5
2 @TEN 22-20 -7 46
3 @HOU 30-24 -6 47.5
4 DEN 38-20 -10 46.5
5 TB 33-14 -9 45
6 BYE - - -
7 @JAC 29-7 -3.5 45
8 @CAR 31-7 -6.5 45
9 NE 20-24 +5.5 56.5
10 @SD 21-23 -3.5 49
11 KC 13-10 -15 44
12 @ATL 31-13 -12 45
13 JAC 28-25 -7 44.5
14 @BAL 44-20 -9.5 44
15 @OAK 21-14 -10.5 45
16 HOU 38-15 -7 47.5
17 TEN 10-16 +4 39.5
P2 SD   -8.5 47
IND vs SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Peyton Manning     280,3
RB Joseph Addai 70,1 10  
TE Dallas Clark   40,1  
WR Marvin Harrison   60,1  
WR Reggie Wayne   90,1  
WR Anthony Gonzalez   60  
PK Adam Vinatieri 1 FG 4 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Colts lost in San Diego this year but only thanks to giving up two return touchdowns to Sproles and Manning tossing a freakish six interceptions. And even with that happening, it all came down to Vinatieri missing a short field goal. The Colts learned their lesson in 2005 when they clinched early and just coasted the final weeks only to come out flat and lose to the Steelers. Harrison is back and the team is healthy other than TE Ben Utecht. While this should be the warm-up game for the meeting against the Patriots, the Colts know they cannot take it lightly after losing to the Charges earlier this year and dropping their first playoff game in 2005 under similar circumstances.

Quarterback: Sure, Peyton Manning threw six interceptions in the first half in the previous meeting with the Chargers but that was just an extremely odd game. He had never thrown more than four in any game in his career and never threw more than one in any other game this year. Manning still came bach to finish with 34 completions on a career high 56 passes for 328 yards and two scores in that game. Manning can beat this defense as long as he sticks with completing passes to his own players. The addition of Harrison back this week only makes the receivers even more dangerous.

Running Backs: Joseph Addai was tearing up the league in the first half of the season with nine touchdowns and over 100 total yards in almost every game. But week ten marked the change when Addai only gained 56 yards on 22 carries and added only 16 yards on three catches. He has not had more than 72 rushing yards in any game since week nine though he did score six more times. What this week answers - and needs to answer - is how much of Addai's late season decline was about taking it easy and how much was just a decrease in his effectiveness.

Wide Receivers: Reggie Wayne had a career best season with 104 completions for a league leading 1510 receiving yards and ten touchdowns. Marvin Harrison hasn't much been seen since week three but is expected to practice this week and play. According to HC Tony Dungy, he looked like the Harrison of old in practice. He would be an obviously nice addition to the passing attack and would move Anthony Gonzalez back to the slot in most cases. Gonzalez sat our week 16 with a sprained foot but is expected to play this week. If Harrison and Gonzalez truly are back to health, this could prove to be a wildly productive trio.

Neither Gonzalez or Harrison played in week ten in San Diego, while Wayne turned in ten catches for 140 yards and a score as the only productive Colt's wideout that week.

Tight Ends: Dallas Clark comes off his career best season with an NFL-best 11 touchdowns during his 58 catches for 616 yards. He's never been much for yardage with a best of 76 yards but his scoring has been a boon for the offense and a reliable target for Manning. Clark also did not play in the week ten game in San Diego. Bryan Fletcher took his place that week and had eight catches for 55 yards.

Match Against the Defense: Sure, the Chargers beat the Colts. And they did it because they returned a punt and a kick for a touchdown while Manning threw six interceptions because Harrison, Gonzalez and Clark did not play in the game. And it was on the road. None of those factors likely apply to this game.

The Chargers on the road have been soft against the run with each of the last five opponents featuring a runner that topped 80 rushing yards and each of those teams had at least one rushing score. Both the Titans and Raiders rushed for over 100 yards in the final two road games of the regular season and both White and Rhodes scored a touchdown. Addai should have a decent game here but he hasn't been nearly as effective in the last half of the season. Then again, the receivers are all back and that should only help to free up the running game. Look for one rushing score here by either Addai or Kenton Keith.

Manning faces a secondary that gave him fits when he was missing nearly all his receivers but they are all back this week and that should result in a solid showing. Manning already had two scores in the previous match-up, look for three this week with solid yardage. It depends largely on game situation of course, but the Colts need to get Harrison back in game shape for a hopeful trip to New England next week.

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