Eric Hartz: Truthfully, health -- as in, the health of Peyton Manning's knee -- has probably been the biggest factor in the bounce-back. Early in the season, he was still feeling the effects of his two knee surgeries over the summer and had lost weight and strength in his recovery. The Colts current winning streak probably has more to do with Manning finding his "A game" just in time.
The second reason is that after a very rough start, the Colts defense has improved drastically, particularly in the area of keeping the opponent off the scoreboard.
RB Joseph Addai
EH: He hasn't appeared on the injury list this week, so it's safe to say he'll ready to go. However, he has taken a pounding this season and the Colts have tried to limit him the last few weeks to have him as fresh as possible for the playoffs.
Expect the Colts to use him as they regularly would, with a hefty dose of Dominic Rhodes mixed in as well.
ML: The Colts have four players with at least 57 catches: TE Dallas Clark and WRs Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison and Anthony Gonzalez. How would you rank those four in order of who will make the biggest impact on Saturday?
EH: Lately, the order has probably been Wayne, Clark, Gonzalez and Harrison. However, you could probably flip-flop Gonzalez and Clark, since the Colts had success with Gonzalez the first time these teams played, and less of one probably means more of the other.
Harrison is not the top option anymore, but he still has speed and route-running skills. If the Chargers sleep on Harrison, Manning will make them pay.
SS Bob Sanders
EH: With middle linebacker Gary Brackett still recovering from a cracked fibula, Sanders will have to keep an eye on Antonio Gates over the middle. And while Sanders is a major factor in run support, he is also quite skilled as a pass defender. In fact, the Colts are probably deepest in the defensive backfield, and the team only gave up six touchdown passes this season, an NFL record.
The Colts probably won't change their game plan too much and won't be able to shut down Philip Rivers and the Chargers pass attack. If they can keep San Diego's aerial game under control, I like their chances against a tender-groined LaDainian Tomlinson.
ML: There will be a lot of intrigue when the Chargers run the football. The Colts defense ranks No. 24 against the run, but the Chargers will be working with a compromised LT (groin). Of course, Indy is all too familiar with Tomlinson's backup, Darren Sproles. Which team do you see winning this matchup?
EH: The Chargers have struggled nearly as much as the Colts running the ball. While Tomlinson had 84 yards on 21 carries in the first meeting -- a relatively successful effort by the Colts defense -- Sproles touched the ball just twice for 21 yards.
Sproles' speed is troublesome but could be neutralized a bit by the field conditions, which could be a bit slow; the Colts-Chargers game will be the third football game played at Qualcomm Stadium this week, including Sunday night's Chargers-Broncos game and Tuesday's Holiday Bowl.
ML: It seems like every Chargers-Colts matchup is decided by a big play on special teams. Who holds the edge in the "third phase" this time around? Who are the Colts special-teams players to keep an eye on?
EH: I can't say if the Colts have an edge with Sproles capable of taking back a kick at any time, but they have been much, much improved over last season. On the Colts coverage teams, keep an eye on Darrell Reid and rookie Jamie Silva.
On returns, rookie Chad Simpson has done a nice job in recent weeks, and fellow rookie Pierre Garcon had a nice return on the opening kickoff last week that was called back due to a penalty.