Here is my key matchup for Sunday's first-round playoff matchup between Tennessee and San Diego:
These teams met less than a month ago, on Dec. 9, when the Chargers defeated the Titans in overtime, 23-17, in Nashville. Tomlinson scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime. Tennessee's defense had dominated the game until midway through the fourth quarter, when Hayneworth left with an injury. The Chargers offense starts and ends with the versatility and competitiveness of No. 21, who makes plays running, catching and throwing. Most of his rushing yards come when he runs to his left, and he was involved in 41 percent of the team's offensive plays through the first 15 games of the season. Teams have done a good job of run-blitzing -- especially on first down, to prevent big plays. Still, Tomlinson will compete until the end of every play, and he led the NFL in rushing for the second consecutive year -- finishing with 1,474 yards and 15 TDs.
Haynesworth is playing at a dominating level again, just as he did before the injury that led him to miss time in the middle of the year. He is the key to the Titans defense, with rare power and quickness. He has the ability to jump from gap to gap, and an uncanny ability to jump the snap count.
Here's how these teams stacked up this season in some critical statisitcal categories:
|3rd-down conversion pct.:||40.1||40.3|