If the NFL were about trends, then the Indianapolis Colts are in trouble. In their past five games against the San Diego Chargers, the Colts are 2-3, scoring 23.8 points per game. In those five games, Peyton Manning has scored only 10 touchdowns, against 12 interceptions with a 78.5 passer rating. Only one rushing touchdown has been scored by Colts running backs (Edgerrin James), while receivers have been modestly effective based on typical expectations against the Bolts. Indianapolis is 1-1 in San Diego since 2000, winning this season's head-to-head match-up 23-20, on a time-expiring 51-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri.
The Colts nine-game winning streak, by itself, is impressive. That's the way you want to play heading into the playoffs. During that streak, the Colts beat the Patriots by three, the Steelers by four, and the Chargers (above). However, competition in their last five games just hasn't been there; scoring wins against the Browns (only winning by four), Bengals, Lions, Jaguars and Titans (who even rested the head coach). However, those wins shouldn't be taken for granted, or else they'd find their berth in the playoffs a little worrisome. They too, until late, were in must win scenarios throughout much of the season. Will the last five games against terrible teams (or a rest in week 17), cause problems?
Bolts From the Blue expects a lot of nickel coverages, primarily because of an average Colts rushing offense, keying off the passing attack of Peyton Manning. Philip Rivers won the December Offensive Player of the Month turning in an impressive four-game performance in must-win games against the Raiders, Chiefs, Buccaneers, and the Broncos. In their past two games, the Chargers scored 93 points, including 52 points in a win-or-go-home regular season finale against the Denver Broncos.
Even though the Colts are a one-point favorite, if you were to predict this game based on who's playing better, then one might look at the Chargers explosive offense. Furthermore, neither team has an advantage based on geographical records; Chargers are 5-3 at home, the Colts are 6-2 on the road. However, if we were to base our prediction on which team has performed better against better teams, we would be foolish to go against the Manning and Colts. Afterall, the Chargers are 0-5 against 2008 Playoff teams.
Even though we believe the Colts win, this game deserves its prime time slot, clearly the better (and entertaining) match-up of the weekend. If you're a fan of football, this will be fun.