Chargers a threat

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

INDIANAPOLIS -- As with most of the football world, the San Diego Chargers are impressed with the Indianapolis Colts and their flashy 13-0 record.

Now they have to avoid getting caught in the headlights.

At 8-5, the Chargers don't have the luxury of enjoying the view of potential history in the making. Instead, the AFC West champions from a year ago are scrapping for their playoff lives.

"We have to worry about us and try to make the Colts worry about us," Chargers quarterback Drew Brees said this week.

Just as the talk of an undefeated season reaches its most fevered state, the Colts arguably face their most serious threat in weeks.

OUT OF MULLIGANS

The Chargers, who nearly beat the Colts a year ago, are out of mulligans this season. After Kansas City's loss yesterday, San Diego is tied with Pittsburgh for the final wild-card spot in the contentious AFC playoff race.

So could the hype hit a wall inside the noisy RCA Dome this afternoon?

"San Diego is very dangerous," Colts defensive tackle Montae Reagor said. "We're already in but we know we're going to get their best shot. We know they're going to bring out everything. We've got to be ready."

For now, at least, Colts coach Tony Dungy plans to play all of his healthy starters. He may pull back on that plan for the final two weeks but feels it's too early to start letting quarterback Peyton Manning and Edgerrin James take time off.

That's the story on offence, anyway. Defensive tackle Corey Simon and end Robert Mathis, both key players in the revamped Indy defence, aren't expected to dress because of foot injuries.

With Brees, running back LaDainian Tomlinson and tight end Antonio Gates, the Chargers have the most dangerous offence west of Indiana.

They have the top-ranked run defence but are 27th against the run, which adds to the potential of a shootout today.

That was certainly the case when the two teams met here in Week 16 last season. The Colts twice rallied from 15-point deficits to force overtime. Oakville's Mike Vanderjagt (who had four field goals last week against the Jaguars) secured the 34-31 win with a 30-yard game-winner.

Manning threw his record 49th touchdown pass that day as the Colts snapped an eight-game San Diego winning streak.

Since the loss, the Chargers have been either poor finishers or victims of hard luck with their five losses in 2005 coming by a combined 14 points.

But at least the San Diegans know they can compete with the Colts which can only help them mess with history.

"For us to go up there last year with everything that was at stake and feel like we played very, very well ... I think we realized we can go anywhere and beat anybody at any time if we play our game," Brees said.

"We feel we owe them one from last year."


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