Back in the Hunt
San Diego, CA - Peyton Manning has had plenty of days in the NFL he'll want to remember. Two games against the San Diego Chargers last season aren't among them.
Manning will look to put one of his worst performances further in the rearview mirror Sunday as the Indianapolis Colts try for their fourth straight win in a matchup with the Chargers - the team that also knocked the Colts out of last season's playoffs.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made the Chargers -1 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 79% of bets for this game have been placed on the Colts +1 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
Indianapolis (6-4) has bounced back from a 3-4 start to move back into postseason contention. The Colts' playoff chances were much less in doubt in 2007, when they won 13 of their first 15 games and ran away with their fifth consecutive AFC South title.
Their lone road loss came against San Diego in Week 10, a 23-21 defeat Nov. 11 in which they outgained the Chargers by more than 200 yards. The Colts lost when Adam Vinatieri missed a late 29-yard field goal, but Manning's worst pro performance didn't help. He threw a career-high six interceptions as the Colts were unable to overcome an early 23-point deficit.
"It was poor quarterback play on my part," Manning said at the time. "I take full responsibility for all of them."
He threw two more interceptions two months later as San Diego ensured the Colts' postseason stay would be brief. Manning passed for 402 yards and three touchdowns, but a late drive led by backup quarterback Billy Volek propelled the Chargers to a 28-24 win and a trip to the AFC championship game.
While the Colts have snapped out of their early season funk, San Diego (6-4) is still stuck in one. The Chargers are 4-4 since losing their first two contests, leaving them two games behind first-place Denver in the AFC West.
They followed up a 20-19 win over Kansas City on Nov. 9 with a bizarre 11-10 defeat at Pittsburgh on Sunday, losing even though their defense didn't allow a touchdown.
"Any time a defense gives up nine points, we should win the game,'' said Philip Rivers, who threw two interceptions. "We didn't get it done.''
Even with the turnovers Sunday, Rivers remains the AFC's highest-rated quarterback at 100.8, and he's thrown 21 touchdown passes - one shy of his career high. San Diego's offensive problems stem from the lack of an effective running game, with LaDainian Tomlinson not performing at all like the back who led the league in rushing the past two seasons.
Tomlinson, who struggled with a toe injury early in the season, is 35th in the NFL with 3.8 yards per carry, his lowest average since his rookie year of 2001. After the loss to the Steelers, he said he feels like his team's playoff hopes are slipping away.
"We're not out of it but it's like, the blown opportunities we keep on talking about, when we could have been easily tied with Denver right now," said Tomlinson, who's averaged 3.6 yards per carry in four games against Indianapolis. "And whenever you keep blowing opportunities, then at some point, as they say, opportunities don't come about anymore."
He may find more room to run against the Colts, particularly if safety Bob Sanders can't go for the second straight week. Indianapolis is allowing 138.5 rushing yards per game - 25th in the league - and Sanders, the reigning NFL defensive player of the year, plays a big part in run support.
The oft-injured Sanders has played in only four games because of a knee injury, and with him sidelined last Sunday, Houston rookie Steve Slaton ran for 156 yards.
Manning and the offense, though, overcame it by delivering their most efficient game of 2008. Manning went 30-for-46 for 320 yards and two touchdowns, and the Colts piled up a season-high 474 yards in a 33-27 win.
Joseph Addai recorded his first 100-yard rushing game of the season for Indianapolis.
"We've turned the ball over less and less," coach Tony Dungy told the team's official Web site. "We're cutting down on a lot of the long-yardage situations we've been in. We've avoided the penalties. I think our whole offense has kind of sharpened up as the year has gone by."
Sanders, listed as questionable against San Diego, isn't the only Colts star who's banged up. All-Pro receiver Reggie Wayne has an ankle injury, although he's expected to play.
Indianapolis, however, can go in knowing its other starting wideout is coming off his best game of the season. Eight-time All-Pro Marvin Harrison caught 10 passes for 110 yards in his previous four games, but had nine catches for 77 yards and a touchdown against the Texans.
The Chargers own the league's worst pass defense at 267.0 yards allowed per game.
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
SAN DIEGO is 10-3 against the spread versus INDIANAPOLIS since 1992
SAN DIEGO is 9-4 straight up against INDIANAPOLIS since 1992
8 of 13 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
SAN DIEGO is 2-0 against the spread versus INDIANAPOLIS over the last 3 seasons
SAN DIEGO is 2-0 straight up against INDIANAPOLIS over the last 3 seasons
1 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at SAN DIEGO since 1992
SAN DIEGO is 3-2 against the spread versus INDIANAPOLIS since 1992
SAN DIEGO is 3-2 straight up against INDIANAPOLIS since 1992
3 of 5 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games played at SAN DIEGO over the last 3 seasons.
SAN DIEGO is 1-0 against the spread versus INDIANAPOLIS over the last 3 seasons
SAN DIEGO is 1-0 straight up against INDIANAPOLIS over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries
[WR] Roy Hall missed last game %27?%27 - Knee - 11/02/08
[RB] Mike Hart IR - Knee - 10/15/08
[CB] Dante Hughes missed last game %27?%27 - Ankle - 11/02/08
[DE] Mike Pollak expected to miss at least 4 weeks. - Knee - 09/10/08
[CB] Michael Coe IR - Knee - 08/13/08
[TE] Tom Santi missed last game %27?%27 - Shoulder - 11/02/08
[RB] Clifton Dawson IR - Concussion - 11/07/08
[LB] Freddie Keiaho is upgraded to probable - Knee - 11/07/08
[CB] Kelvin Hayden is downgraded to doubtful - Knee - 11/07/08
[OG] Ryan Lilja expected to miss at least 6 weeks. - Knee - 08/09/08
[CB] Marlin Jackson IR - ACL - 10/30/08
[CB] T.J. Rushing IR - Knee - 08/25/08
[WR] Buster Davis missed last game, "?" - Groin - 10/26/08
[LB] Shawne Merriman IR - Knee - 09/10/08
[DB] Quentin Jammer is upgraded to probable - Hamstring - 11/07/08
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Posted: 11/19/08 8:02 PM ET