Chargers-Colts Preview

Published Nov. 24, 2010 3:39 p.m. EST

If the Indianapolis Colts fall Sunday night, it probably wouldn't be as devastating as the other recent losses they've been handed by the San Diego Chargers.

It still would have to sting pretty badly.

The Chargers look to continue their latest second-half surge and send the Colts into a deeper funk by winning for the fifth time in the last six meetings.

This is San Diego's third trip to Indianapolis in just over five years, and the first two resulted in crushing defeats for the Colts. They had a 12-0 record before losing 26-17 in 2005, then took a nine-game win streak into the playoffs after the 2008 season only to lose 28-24 on a late touchdown even after knocking Philip Rivers out of the game.


These teams met again in the postseason a year later - their most recent matchup - and the Chargers won 23-17 in overtime. The Colts avoided them last season and reached the Super Bowl.

"They are a team that creates problems for you just in terms of matchups," coach Jim Caldwell told the Colts' official website. "It's been a real battle with them throughout the years as well."

Since the start of 2005, including playoffs, Peyton Manning's 77.5 passer rating versus San Diego (5-5) is easily his lowest against any team he's faced more than three times. He's lost four of five matchups in that span, including a career-high six-interception game in a 2007 defeat at San Diego.

The struggles of Manning and the Colts (6-4) in those five games - they've failed to score more than 24 points in any of them - have plenty to do with the Chargers' defensive scheme, according to coach Norv Turner.

"I think that the 3-4 defense helps us defensively. I think that we've done a good job giving them a lot of different looks so we've been able to get pressure," he said. "And then we've been able to score points and keep the ball and that's a big part of playing good defense."

Turner again has the Chargers rounding into form after a slow start.

After opening 2-5, they've won three straight as Rivers has thrown for 10 touchdowns while the offense has averaged 32.7 points. San Diego has been below .500 at least through five games in each of Turner's first three seasons but made the playoffs each time, and now it's within a game of Kansas City for the AFC West lead.

Indianapolis is tied atop the AFC South with Jacksonville but already has equaled its highest loss total since 2002. While their only win from the past three weeks saw the Colts struggle to beat woeful Cincinnati at home, they lost at Philadelphia and New England in the other two as Manning threw interceptions with the game on the line.

"Peyton knows we're behind him 100 percent because we've seen him time and time again win games for us," cornerback Jerraud Powers said.

As Manning remains without two key targets with tight end Dallas Clark (wrist) out for the season and Austin Collie (concussion) missing his second game in three weeks, Rivers could welcome back two of his.

Vincent Jackson will make his long-awaited season debut after serving a three-game suspension on the team's roster exempt list following his contract holdout. The Pro Bowl receiver led San Diego last season with 1,167 receiving yards and nine touchdown receptions.

Antonio Gates is the team leader in those categories this year and also hopes to return, though it's possible the All-Pro tight end could miss a third straight game with a foot injury.

Colts leading rusher Joseph Addai also might be back after missing the last four games with a shoulder problem, potentially boosting a ground game held to an average of 69.7 yards over the last three games.

That rushing attack has been limited to 59.6 per game by San Diego in the last five meetings while the Chargers averaged 136.6.

At least one major factor in Indianapolis' favor is this game being played at Lucas Oil Stadium. While the Colts are 4-0 at home and have won 19 of 20 there, including playoffs, the Chargers are 1-4 on the road and the only win came on a fourth-quarter touchdown against Houston.

"They have disappointed us in a few seasons knocking us out of the playoffs," Colts linebacker Gary Brackett said. "So definitely, the rivalry is starting to brew with San Diego, and they are picking it up like they usually do in the second half of the season."