Indianapolis Do's & Don't's:
Do ride Peyton Manning's hot hand. Manning should be the NFL's MVP, and the way he played over the last four games of the season should carry over. If Manning gets going with a pitch 'n' catch game, it could get ugly.
Do rest assured that the Indy defense is a whole different beast with Bob Sanders in the lineup. The defending defensive player of the year missed a lot of time this year, but even a hurt Bob Sanders brings a lot to that defense, psychologically.
Do use this game to strike fear in the hearts of other teams in the playoffs by making a statement.
Don't let that win over the Chargers on November 23rd fool you. It was a close game, but it was also a team that was 4-6 going into the game. The Chargers have confidence, and football is a sport where mind, at times, can outdo matter.
Don't let the defense sit back and do anything but attack. Regardless of Sanders's presence, the defense cannot match up size-wise against the Chargers. This is one of the speediest front seven's in the league and in the NFL, speed translates to turnovers. Freeney, Brock and Dawson must pitch a tent in San Diego's backfield.
San Diego Do's & Don't's:
Do let Rivers get started early in the passing game. His 11 to 1 TD/INT ratio over the last four games must continue if the Chargers are to have a chance in this game.
Do believe that Tomlinson has something left in the tank. While he had a down season, and showed signs of aging, Tomlinson didn't have to carry the load during the four game win streak. He might have had the rest he needed to come into this game ready to hit the ground running.
Do get the ball in the hands of Darren Sproles. He is the home run threat on this team. With a well-timed 25+ yard run/catch, he could serve as a momentum changer as well.
Don't let this game rest on the defense. It's time to run up the score and expect a shoot out. The Colts are licking their chops ready to take on this defense that did so poorly against the pass all season.
Don't allow Norv to Out-Clever himself. Draw plays on 3rd and long are far from cute when the season is on the line. The Chargers have size on the offense. They have the potential to beat up the smaller Colts defense. A heavy dose of Tomlinson, Tolbert, Jackson, Gates and Chambers should open the door for the aforementioined big play by Sproles.
When Either Team has the ball
QBs & WR/TEs vs. DBs
This classic shootout will come down to how much of a dent the DBs for either team can put in the receiving game for either team. The numbers show that this could be a hellacious shootout, but if this turns into a low-scoring game, the DBs deserve tremendous credit.
Both teams are coming off of winning streaks. San Diego won their last four, while Indy won their last nine. One would lean towards Indy in this case, but when does a team become complacent in their winning? Not trying to say Indy thinks they can put it in cruise control, but could San Diego, being on a fresher winning streak, be hitting their stride?
Not in the sense of which defense can step up and shut the other team down, but moreso which defense will make the big play that puts the ball back in their offense's hands? Don't be surprised if a single defensive play determines the outcome of the game.
Final Score Prediction:
Colts win: 43-31