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Three keys for the Colts

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
SAN DIEGO -- Here are three things I think have to happen for the Colts to have their best chance to win Saturday night against the Chargers.

I acknowledge up front there is no rocket scientology involved in this formula.

Protect Manning: Against 3-4 defenses in the playoffs -- and they've belonged to good teams like New England, Pittsburgh and San Diego -- Peyton Manning has gotten sacked more often and thrown more interceptions. Once again, the Colts do not have the full offensive line they'd prefer. Dan Federkeil will be at right guard with Mike Pollak out hurt.

Minimize big plays: San Diego's been an explosive team. If the Colts can make Philip Rivers be patient and have to work super hard to drive the field, they'll get an edge. Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are rested. They need to wreak some havoc and get the Chargers off rhythm -- something that didn't happen in last year's playoff game.

Run at least a little: Yes, the Colts can get yards out of Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes as part of the passing game. But if the Chargers stuff the run and make it a non-factor early, I would think the home team won't buy any play-action fakes from there. The Colts don't have to run well to win, but they may have to run well enough -- or at least often enough -- to make play-action a believable piece of their game and for it to create any hesitation for the Chargers defense.