The goal for the team should be to get the ball in the hands of running back LaDainian Tomlinson early and often. The Colts have a small front four so the Chargers offensive line could have their way. They should be effective running inside and also in the screen game.
When passing the ball, they should get the ball to second-year tight end Antonio Gates as much as possible. The Colts don't have anyone who can cover him and the better he does, the more he will open up others areas for the team to go to. Receiver Eric Parker should get plenty of single coverage with the attention from the Colts' defense securely on Gates all day. They'll also have to do a good job keeping defensive end Dwight Freeney from getting pressure on quarterback Drew Brees by chipping him with an extra tight end of fullback Lorenzo Neal.
Defensively, the Ravens went to a six defensive back look extensively last week in order to slow down the Colts' passing game but the Chargers don't have enough talent in the defensive backfield to attempt something like that. What they should do is go to more nickel packages earlier in order to force Indianapolis to run more.
What the Colts have to do to win:
Offensively, the way to beat the Chargers is to throw the ball. The Chargers have a terrific run defense but a shaky secondary. The Colts should spread them out and get third receiver Brandon Stokley involved early and often-especially if second-year cornerback Sammy Davis (leg) can't play. The Chargers really only have one solid cover cornerback and quarterback Peyton Manning should have a big day in the air.
Defensively, they'll have to control Tomlinson and make San Diego pass the ball more than they want to. They'll have to double Gates as much as possible and make another player beat them in the passing game.
Baltimore at Pittsburgh
What the Ravens have to do to win:
Offensively, it won't be easy but the Ravens will have to establish the run early. With veteran running back Jamal Lewis still hobbled by a sprained ankle, they may have to mix in reserve back Chester Taylor more than they had originally planned. Lewis will have to prove he can run inside with some success or the Ravens will have to start throwing which is really away from their identity.
In the passing game, someone will have to step up and raise their level of play. If tight end Todd Heap can have success, that will open up the deep passing game since the Steelers will have to keep a safety on Heap.
Defensively, they'll have to control the usually solid Steelers' running game. The Steelers set up their play action passing when their running game is going well. Cornerback Chris McAlister will have to raise his level of play against wide receiver Hines Ward who has four scores over his last four games against the Ravens.
What the Steelers have to do to win:
Offensively, it starts with the running game. Everything they do is set up with the run. If the running game is successful, their play action passing should be effective as it was last week against the Giants.
Defensively, they have to control Lewis and make quarterback Kyle Boller beat them. Boller has shown flashes of good play in the second half of the season but lacks consistency. They'll have to keep a watchful eye on Heap as he's Boller's favorite receiver.
New England at New York Jets
What the Patriots have to do to win:
Offensively, the Jets have been solid against the run virtually all season so if the running game is stalled, they should go to more multiple receiver sets since the Jets don't have a strong secondary. That's the Patriots' best bet to move the ball down field. If the Jets commit an extra defender in the box to stop running back Corey Dillon, they should get the ball down field to their receivers who should see a lot of one-on-one coverage. They should also get tight end Dan Graham involved in the passing game as the Jets' safeties aren't strong in coverage.
Defensively, they must stop running back Curtis Martin. He sets up their passing game. If they can control Martin, that should make the Jets more predictable.
What the Jets have to do to win:
Offensively, get Martin off to a good start so they can get more one-on-one coverage for their receivers. With the Patriots cornerbacks banged up, the Jets should attack the inexperienced replacements.
Defensively, they have to control Dillon and have him average less than four yards per carry. That will force the Patriots to pass the ball more where they weren't at the top of their game last week at Miami. They have to pressure quarterback Tom Brady and not let him pick them apart.
What They have to Do to Win on Sunday
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