Each week Coltzilla will preview the upcoming game by speaking with fellow bloggers or writers who cover the week’s opponent. This week Coltzilla speaks with Dan McLellan from CBS Sports and sandiego.com to get a Chargers perspective on the Colts upcoming match-up. You can also check out his home site to find other articles at www.danmclellan.com.
CZ: With Patrick Crayton, Antonio Gates, and Malcolm Floyd injured and possibly unable to play, how concerned are Chargers fans that they may have to lean heavily on Vincent Jackson, who will be playing in his first game this year? Who is likely to replace Gates if he is unable to go?
DM: There is not a great deal of concern that WR Vincent Jackson will be leaned on too heavily. Every week QB Philip Rivers seemingly finds a new target. So, at this point of the season he is comfortable with a variety of receivers.
My concern is that the game is being played on artificial turf. WR Malcom Floyd (hamstring) and TE Antonio Gates (toe) suffered injuries on turf against the Rams. The Chargers cannot afford to lose another receiver to injuries or for any of the above mentioned injured players to have a setback. Jackson has not yet played so it is hard to tell if he is truly in game shape or not. It would be disastrous if Jackson was to get hurt in his first game back.
CZ: San Diego continues to get out of the gate very slow, only to turn things around once the season approaches the midway point. What is the story there? Why does this happen almost every year?
DM: Other than a statistical anomaly the only conclusion that I can come to is that it speaks to both a weakness and strength of coach Norv Turner’s ability to devise a game plan based on researching opponents.
Turner is clearly a brilliant offensive coordinator, evidenced by the year QB Philip Rivers is having with so many of his receivers hurt. I believe Turner does a better job of dissecting the opposing defenses as the year goes along when there is more game footage available from the opposing teams.
CZ: Fans of most teams fear games against the Colts because they are very hard to win. The Chargers have had their way with Indianapolis for the better part of at least four years. Do Chargers fans respect the Colts or do they have a lot of confidence playing Indy?
DM: Throw the past five games out the window. This is a week-by-week league. Four of the Chargers five losses have been to the Chiefs, Seahawks, Raiders, and Rams, not necessarily the best the NFL has to offer.
With that in mind, Chargers fans hold their breath every time the team takes the field because they are uncertain of exactly what Chargers team will show up.
With that said, everyone from fans to the players believes that the team can continue its dominance of the Colts. If your name is Manning, not only are you disliked in San Diego, you strike no fear on the football field.
CZ: Who is the one guy that people don’t know that Colts fans should worry about in this game?
DM: WR Seyi Ajirotutu, a 2010 undrafted free agent, had a two touchdown game against the Texans and received the game ball. He was barely heard from on Monday night against the Broncos. Either scenario is likely this week.
CZ: The Chargers are starting to play better and the Colts are starting to slowly get healthy and play better in some areas. These things make the game hard to predict, but what is your prediction for this game?
DM: The Colts have always had a strong offense, perhaps stronger than the Chargers, but their defense has not consistently been as a tough. The Chargers defense on the other hand has been consistently better than the Colts defense when the two teams have played each other and because of that the Chargers have won.
That scenario will play out again on Sunday night. Only this time the Chargers also have a better offense than the Colts. Right now QB Philip Rivers is playing better than QB Peyton Manning. The game will be high scoring and close. The Chargers will have more scoring opportunities than the Colts. However, they have not handled crowd noise very well this year. If that continues, the Chargers offense will likely commit a few untimely penalties that will turn touchdown opportunities into field goal attempts keeping the game close.
I expect the Chargers defense will get pressure on Manning and that will lead to at least one interception. However, that will probably be offset by at least one Chargers turnover via a fumble. The most likely source for the fumble is FB-RB Mike Tolbert or Rivers, who is not great at protecting the football, could just as easily give up a forced fumble caused by either DE Robert Mathis or DE Dwight Freeney.
Final Score: Chargers 33 Colts 27