LB Matt Wilhelm (Donald Miralle/Getty)
The Chargers finally get their chance to prove they belong amongst the NFL's elite. Get the personnel updates, injury news and keys to the game you need to know before kickoff.
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
TV: CBS, Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf
SERIES: 4th playoff meeting, 48th meeting overall. San Diego erased a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit on Dec. 9 in Nashville and won 23-17 in overtime. Tennessee hasn't won in San Diego in its last three tries.
PREDICTION: Colts 27-23
KEYS TO THE GAME
The Chargers hope their improved passing game from last weekend will help open more running lanes for RB LaDainian Tomlinson against the Colts and Defensive Player of the Year SS Bob Sanders. The problem is that if TE Antonio Gates isn't available to draw the attention of the safeties over the middle, San Diego will have a difficult time finding the vertical success it enjoyed against Tennessee. The Colts' Cover-2 scheme is designed to prevent exactly those types of big plays.
Colts QB Peyton Manning was picked off a career-high six times during the regular-season meeting. That won't prevent him from pulling the trigger, but an early turnover or two would do San Diego's confidence a world of good. At home and with the starting offense finally back at full strength, Manning will focus on controlling the tempo. That means RB Joseph Addai early on to set up the passing game.
Chargers: Gates (dislocated toe) was in a walking boot midweek and is very questionable; PK Nate Kaeding (leg) will likely be replaced on kickoffs by Dave Rayner.
Colts: WR Marvin Harrison (knee), DE Robert Mathis (knees) and OT Ryan Diem (knee) are expected to play.
FAST FACTS: The Chargers' six interceptions against Manning were part of their league-leading 30 during the regular season. ... Indianapolis led the league in scoring defense at 16.4 points per game.
CHARGERS PERSONNEL NEWS
--Pro Bowl FB Lorenzo Neal worked again as he bounces back from breaking his leg last month. Neal could be active Sunday.
--WR Chris Chambers was back working after the team rested him on Wednesday because of soreness. He's a go for Sunday.
--K Nate Kaeding (leg) got in his usual work. But it's still likely that Dave Rayner will handle the kickoffs with Kaeding doing the place-kicking.
--Pro Bowl DT Jamal Williams (hip, ankle) returned to practice after resting on Wednesday. He often takes Wednesday off to stay fresh.
--OLB Marques Harris (hand) continues to work but he could be a healthy inactive Sunday if Neal is able to go.
COLTS PERSONNEL NEWS
--CB-KR T.J. Rushing (illness) returned to practice Thursday after missing Wednesday's workout. He was the only player on the team's player participation chart Wednesday.
--WR Marvin Harrison (knee) has practiced both days this week and is expected to start against San Diego on Sunday.
--DT Raheem Brock (rib) will start against the Chargers on Sunday. He has practiced for the last two weeks and appears to be completely healed from his earlier injury.
--OT Ryan Diem (knee) has practiced for the last two weeks and should be ready to start Sunday against San Diego.
--DE Robert Mathis (knees) will start for the Colts against San Diego. Mathis has not played since he was hurt against Baltimore on Dec. 9.
--S Antoine Bethea (knee) is expected to be in the starting lineup against the Chargers on Sunday. Bethea was hurt at Baltimore and has not played since that time.
--WR Anthony Gonzalez (foot) has practiced all week and will be available to play against San Diego on Sunday. He was hurt in the next-to-last regular season game with Houston.
--LB Tyjuan Hagler (toe) returned to practice this week after he was hurt in the regular-season finale with Tennessee. He did not take part in workouts last week. Hagler is expected to start against the Chargers on Sunday.
--S Matt Giordano (concussion) will play against San Diego on Sunday. He was hurt against Tennessee in the final game of the regular season.
--TE Ben Utecht (shoulder) went through full practices on Wednesday and Thursday. Utecht is expected to see playing time against the Chargers on Sunday.
--CB Tim Jennings (concussion) appears to be fully recovered and will play against San Diego this week. Jennings was held out of Thursday's workout, as he usually is each week.
--S Bob Sanders did not take part in Thursday's workout but will start against the Chargers on Sunday. Sanders is usually given one day off each week to rest old injuries.